The Circassian Slave
by Lieutenant Maturin Murray
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. A
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XI. THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
THE ESCAPE FROM
CHAPTER XIV. THE
A SCRAP OF ROMAN
HISTORY. BY AN
The Circassian Slave; or, The Sultan's Favorite: A Story of
Constantinople and the Caucasus
PUBLISHER's NOTE.—The following Novelette was originally published
in THE PICTORIAL DRAWING ROOM COMPANION, and is but a specimen of the
many deeply entertaining Tales, and the gems of literary merit, which
grace the columns of that elegant and highly popular journal. THE
COMPANION embodies a corps of contributors of rare literary
excellence, and is regarded as the ne plus ultra, by its scores of
thousands of readers.
The following story relates to that exceedingly interesting and
romantic portion of the world bordering on the Black Sea, the Sea of
Marmora, and the Bosphorus. The period of the story being quite
modern, its scenes are a transcript of the present time in the city
of the Sultan. The peculiarities of Turkish character are of the
follower of Mahomet, as they appear to-day; and the incidents
depicted are such as have precedents daily in the oriental capital.
Leaving the tale to the kind consideration of the reader, the author
would not fail to express his thanks for former indulgence and favor.
CHAPTER I. THE SLAVE MARKET.
Upon one of those hot, sultry summer afternoons that so often
prevail about the banks of the Bosphorus, the sun was fast sinking
towards its western course, and gilding as it went, the golden
crescents of a thousand minarets, now dancing with fairy feet over
the rippling waters of Marmora, now dallying with the spray of the
oarsmen's blades, as they pulled the gilded caique of some rich old
Mussulman up the tide of the Golden Horn. The soft and dainty scented
air came in light zephyrs off the shore of Asia to play upon the
European coast, and altogether it was a dreamy, siesta-like hour hat
reigned in the Turkish capital.
Let the reader come with us at this time into the circular area
that forms the slave market of Constantinople. The bazaar is well
filled; here are Egyptians, Bulgarians, Persians, and even Africans;
but we will pass them by and cross to the main stand, where are
exposed for sale some score of Georgians and Circassians. They are all
chosen for their beauty of person, and present a scene of more than
usual interest, awaiting the fate that the future may send them in a
kind or heartless master; and knowing how much of their future peace
depends upon this chance, they watch each new comer with almost
painful interest as he moves about the area.
A careless crowd thronged the place, lounging about in little knots
here and there, while one lot of slave merchants, with their broad
but graceful turbans, were sitting round a brass vessel of coals,
smoking or making their coffee, and discussing the matters pertaining
to their trade. Some came there solely to smoke their opium-drugged
pipes, and some to purchase, if a good bargain should offer and a
beauty be sold cheap. Here were sprightly Greeks, sage Jews, and moody
Armenians, but all outnumbered by the sedate old Turks, with beards
sweeping their very breasts. It was a motley crowd that thronged the
Now and then there burst forth the ringing sound of laughter front
an enclosed division of the place where were confined a whole bevy of
Nubian damsels, flat-nostriled and curly-headed, but as slight and
fine-limbed as blocks of polished ebony. They were lying negligently
about, in postures that would have taken a painter's eye, but we have
naught to do with then at this time.
The females that were now offered for sale were principally of the
fair and rosy-cheeked Circassian race, exposed to the curious eve of
the throng only so far as delicacy would sanction, yet leaving enough
visible to develope charms that fired the spirits of the Turkish
crowd; and the bids ran high on this sale of humanity, until at last a
beautiful creature, with a form of ravishing loveliness, large and
lustrous eyes, and every belonging that might go to make up a Venus,
was led forth to the auctioneer's stand. She was young and
surpassingly handsome, while her hearing evinced a degree of modesty
that challenged their highest admiration.
Of course the bidding was spirited and liberal for such a specimen
of her race; but suddenly the auctioneer paused, and declared that he
had forgotten to mention one matter which might, perhaps, be to some
purchasers even a favorable consideration, which was, that the slave
was deaf and dumb! The effects of this announcement were of course
various; on some it did have a favorable effect, inasmuch as it seemed
to add fresh interest to the undoubted charms she evinced, but other
shrank back disappointed that a creature of so much loveliness should
be even partially bereft of her faculties.
"Are you deaf and dumb?" asked an old Turk, approaching the
Circassian where she stood, as though he wished to satisfy himself as
to the truth of what the salesman had announced.
The slave lifted her eyes at his approach, and only shook her head
in signification that she could not speak, as she saw his lips move
in the utterance of some words, which she supposed addressed to her.
The splendid beauty of her eyes, and the general expression of her
countenance, seemed to act like magic on the Musselman, who, turning
to the auctioneer, bid five hundred piasters, a hundred advance on
the first offer.
At this moment a person wearing the uniform of the Turkish navy,
made his way towards the stand from the centre of the bazaar, where
he had for some minutes been intently regarding the scene, and bid
"Six hundred piasters."
"Seven," said the previous bidder.
"Eight," continued the naval officer.
"Eight fifty," responded the old Turk.
"Nine hundred," said the officer, with a promptness that attracted
the attention of the crowd.
"One thousand piasters," said his competitor, as he continued to
regard her exquisite and beautiful mould, and her features, so like a
picture, in their regular and artistic lines of beauty. It was very
plain that the old Turk felt, as he gazed upon her, so silent yet so
beautiful, that she was richly worth her weight in pearls.
"A thousand piasters," repeated the vender of the slave market,
turning once more to the officer, then added, as he received no
encouraging sign from him, "a thousands piasters, and sold!"
The officer regarded her with much interest, and turned away in
evident disappointment, for the old Turk who had outbid him, had gone
beyond any means that he possessed. The purchaser handed forth the
money in a couple of small bags, and throwing a close veil over the
head of the slave, led her away through the narrow and winding streets
of old Stamboul to the water's side, where they entered a caique that
awaited them, and pulled up the harbor.
Its shooting caiques, its forest of merchantmen, and its hoard of
Turkish war ships; were changed, in a few moments of swift pulling,
for the breathless solitude of the Valley of Sweet Waters, which
opens with a gentle curve from the Golden Horn, and winds away into
the hills towards Belgrade, where the river assumes the character of
a silvery stream, threading its way through a soft and verdant meadow
on either hand, as beautiful in aspect as the Prophet's Paradise. The
spot where the Sultan sends his swift-footed Arabians to graze on the
earliest verdure that decks the face of spring.
It was up this fairy-like passage that the dumb slave was swept in
her master's caique, and by scenes so beautiful as even to enchant
her sad and silent bosom. The Turk marked well the influence of the
scenery upon the Circassian, and slowly stroked his beard with silent
satisfaction at the sight.
The caique soon stopped before a gorgeous palace, in the midst of
this fine plain, and the Turk, by a signal, summoned the guard of
eunuchs from a tent of the Prophet's green, that was pitched near the
banks of the Barbyses, that ran its meandering course through this
verdant scene. It was a princely home, the proudest harem in all this
gem of the Orient, for the old Turk had acted not for himself in the
purchase he had made, but as the agent of a higher will than his own,
and the dumb slave was led to the seraglio of the Sultan.
The old Turk was evidently a privileged body, and following close
upon the heels of the eunuchs, he divested himself of his slippers at
the entrance of the palace, and led the slave before the "Brother of
The monarch was a noble specimen of his race, tall, commanding, and
with a spirit of firmness breathing from his expressive face. His
beard was jetty black, and gave a much older appearance to his
features than belonged to them. He was the child of a seraglio, whose
mothers were chosen for beauty alone, and how could he escape being
handsome? The blood of Circassian upon Circassian was in his veins,
and the trace of their nationality was upon his brow, but there was in
the eye a doomed darkness of expression that caused the beautiful
creature before him to almost tremble with fear.
"Beautiful, indeed," mused the Sultan, as he gazed upon the slave
with undisguised interest; "and how much did she cost us, good
"One thousand piasters, excellency" answered the agent, with
"A thousand piasters," repeated the monarch, again gazing at the
"Yes, excellency, the bids ran high."
"A goodly sum, truly, Mustapha, but a goodly return," continued the
"There was one fault, excellency," continued the agent, "that I
feared might disappoint you."
"And what is that, good Mustapha?"
"She is both deaf and dumb, excellency."
"Both deaf and dumb," repeated the Sultan, rising from his divan
and approaching the lovely Circassian, actuated by the interest that
he felt at so singular an announcement.
While the old Turk stroked his beard with an air of satisfaction at
the result of his purchase as it regarded the approval of his master,
the slave bent humbly before the monarch, for though she knew not by
any word or sign addressed to her who her master was, yet she felt
that no one could assume that air of dignity and command but the
Sultan. A blush stole over the pale face of the Circassian as the
monarch laid his hand on her arm and gazed intently upon her face, and
whatever his inward thoughts were, his handsome countenance expressed
a spirit of tenderness and gentle concern for her situation that
became him well, for clemency is the brightest jewel in a crown.
"Deaf and dumb," repeated the Sultan against to himself, "and yet
so very beautiful."
"She is beautiful, indeed, excellency," said the old Turk, echoing
his master's thoughts.
"So they sought her eagerly at the market, good Mustapha, did they
"Excellency, yes. One of your own officers bid against me heavily;
he wore the marine uniform."
"Ha! did the fellow know you?" asked the Sultan, quickly, with a
flashing eye that showed how capable that face was of a far different
expression from that which the dumb slave had given rise to.
"I think he did not know me, excellency."
After a moment's pause the Sultan turned again to the gentle girl
that stood before him, and taking her hand, endeavored by his looks
of kind assurance to express to her that he should strive to make her
happy; and as he smoothed her dark, glossy hair tenderly, the slave
bent her forehead to the hand that held her own, in token of gratitude
for the kindness with which she was received, and when she raised her
face again. Both the Sultan and Mustapha saw that tears had wet her
cheeks, and her bosom heaved quickly with the emotion that actuated
At this moment the Circassian felt her dress slightly drawn from
behind, and turning, confronted the person of a lad who might,
judging from his size, be some seventeen years of age. His form was
beautiful in its outline, and his step light and graceful; but the
face, alas! that throne of the intellect was a barren waste, and his
vacant eye and lolling lip showed at once that the poor boy was
little less than an idiot. And yet, as he looked upon the slave, and
saw the tear glistening in her eye, there seemed to be a flash of
intelligence cross his features, as though there was still a spark of
heaven in the boy. But 'twas gone again, and seeming to forget the
object that had led him to her side, he sank down upon the cushioned
floor, and played with a golden tassel as an infant would char have
The idiot was an exemplification of a strange but universal
superstition among the Turks. With these eastern people there is a
traditionary belief in what is called the evil eye, answering to the
evil spirit that is accredited to exist by more civilized nations.
Any human being bereft of reason, or seriously deformed in any way,
is held by them to be a protection against the blight of the evil
eye, which, being once cast upon a person, renders him doomed
forever. Holding, therefore, that dwarfs, idiots or mad-men are
partially inspired, every considerable such establishment supports
one or more, whose privilege it is to follow, untrammeled, their own
pleasure. The idiot boy, in the Sultan's palace, was one of this
class, whom no one thwarted, and who was regarded with a half
superstitious reverence by all.
While this scene had been transpiring between the idiot boy and the
slave, the Sultan had been talking with Mustapha concerning the
latter. It seemed by his story that she had been very ill since she
was brought from her native valley, and that she was hardly yet
recovered from the debility that had followed her sickness. She would
not write nor read one word of either the Turkish or Circassian
tongue, and therefore could only express herself by signs; for which
reason, neither those who sold her nor the purchaser knew aught of her
history beyond the fact that she was a Circassian, and also that she
seemed to be less happy than those of her countrywomen generally who
come to Constantinople. This might be owing to the affliction under
which she labored as to being dumb, but it was evident that Sultan
Mahomet thought otherwise as he gazed silently at her.
"She came not of her own free will from her native vales,
Mustapha," said his master.
"No one knows, excellency, though her people generally come most
cheerfully to our harems."
"There is no means of understanding her save by signs?" asked the
"Take her to the harem, Mustapha," said his master, after a few
moments of thoughtful silence, "take her to the harem, and give
strict charge that she be well cared for."
"Excellency, yes," said the old Turk, with a profound reverence
after the manner of the East, "your wish is your slave's law," he
continued, as he turned away.
"And look you, good Mustapha," said the Sultan, recalling him once
more, "say it is our will that she be made as happy as may be."
"Excellency, yes," again repeated the old man with a salaam, and
then turning to the Circassian, he signed to her to follow him.
As the slave retired she could not but look back at the Sultan, who
had greeted her with such kind consideration, and as she did so she
met his dark, piercing eye bent upon her in gentle pity. She almost
sighed to leave the presence of one who had showed her the first
kindness, the first token of thoughtful consideration for her
situation since she left her own home, far away beyond the sea. But
Mustapha beckoned her forward, and she hastened to obey his summons,
wondering as she went what was to be her fate; whether that was to be
her future home, and what position she was to hold there. Musing thus,
she followed the Turk towards the sacred precincts of the harem.
The monarch left alone, save the thoughtless boy, who lay upon the
rich divan, coiled up like an animal gone to sleep, seemed to be
troubled in his mind. Stern and imperious by nature, it was not usual
for him to evince such feeling as had exercised him towards the dumb
slave, and it was plain that his heart was moved by feelings that were
novel there. Touching a silver gong that hung pendent from the wall,
just within reach of his arm, a Nubian slave opened the hangings of
the apartment, and appeared as though he had come out of the wall.
The slave knew well his master's summons, and preparing for him the
bowl of his pipe, and lighting it, coiled the silken tube to his
hand, and on his knee presented the amber mouthpiece.
Thus occupied, the Sultan was soon lost in the dreamy narcotic of
CHAPTER II. THE SULTAN'S HAREM.
The harem into which the dumb Circassian girl was conducted by the
woman to whom the old Turk delivered his message, was a place of such
luxuriant splendor as to puzzle her, and she stood like one amazed for
some moments.—The costly and grateful lounges, the heavy and downy
carpets, the rich velvet and silken hangings about the walls, the
picturesque and lovely groups of female slaves that laughed and toyed
with each other, mingling in pleasant games, the rich though scanty
dress of these favorites of the Sultan, all were confusing and
dazzling to her untutored eye, and when, after a few moments' minutes,
a dozen of these lovely girls crowded about her with curious eyes to
know who was the new comer that was to be their companion, the poor
girl shrunk back half abashed, for she could not speak to them.
They too were puzzled that she made no reply to them, and stood
there in wonder.
It was only for a moment, however, when the beautiful stranger
pointed to her mouth and ears significantly, and gently shook her
head with a sadness of expression that was electrical, for each one
instantly understood her meaning, and pitied her. Some little feeling
of envy might have been ready to burst forth in the breasts of those
about her, but gentle pity loves to linger by beauty's side, and so
they all loved and condoled with the fair stranger. One took her hand
and led her to a cushion in the centre of the little circle that had
just been formed, another unloosed the wealth of beautiful hair that
astonished them by its dark richness and profusion as it fell about
her fair neck. She who had unloosed the new comer's hair, now fell to
braiding it in solid masses and plaiting it about her head.
A second one taking a rare bracelet of pearls off her own fair
arms, placed it upon the Circassian's, and sealed it there with a
kiss!—Another removed the leather shoes she wore, and replaced them
with satin ones of curious workmanship and richly wrought with thread
of gold, and still another loosened the coarse mantle that enshrouded
her shoulders, and covered her with a shawl that had come across the
desert from the far east, rich in texture and beautiful as costly. And
as another tossed a handful of fresh flowers into her lap, the poor
girl's cheeks became wet with tears, for their unselfish kindness and
generous tenderness had touched heart.
But these tokens were quickly brushed away and kisses took their
place, while fair and delicate hands were busy upon her, until the
poor slave who had so lately stood exposed in the open bazaar of the
capital, now saw among this family of the Turkish monarch, literally
as a star of the harem. In beauty, she did indeed outshine them all,
but they forgot this in the memory of her misfortune, and envied not
the dumb slave. They touched her fingers with henna dye, and anointed
her with rare and costly perfumes, seeming to vie with each other in
their interesting efforts to deck and beautify one who had only the
voluptuous softness of her dark eyes to thank them with, for those
lovely lips, of such tempting freshness in their coral hue, could
utter no sound.
They brought to her all their jewels and rich ornaments to amuse
her, and each one contributed to give her from out their store some
becoming ornament, now a diamond broach, and now a ruby ring, next a
necklace of emeralds, interspersed with glowing opals, a fourth added
a girdle of golden chain braced at every link by close and richly cut
garnets, and other rings of sapphire and amethysts, until the lovely
stranger was dazzling with the combined brilliancy and reflection of
so many rare and beautiful jewels about her person.
It was not the jewels that so gratified the young Circassian, but
the good will they represented. She cared little for them
intrinsically, beautiful and rich as they were, but she grew very
fast to love the donors.
Days passed on in this manner, and the Sultan was no less surprised
than delighted to witness this voluntary kindness and affection that
was so freely rendered to the lovely girl. Her affliction seemed to
render her sacred in his eyes, and there was no kindness on his part
that was forgotten. Her manners and intelligent bearing showed her to
belong to the better class of her own nation, and her gentle dignity
commanded respect as well as love. She had already come to a degree of
understanding with those about her that was sufficient as it regarded
her ordinary wishes and wants, but of the past or future she had not
means to communicate, her tongue was sealed, and for this reason her
history must remain a hidden mystery to those about her whom she
loved, and would gladly have confided in.
One occupation seemed to delight her above all else, it was so
simple and beautiful, besides which it enabled her to convey her
feelings by means of an agency that, as far as it went, supplied to
her the loss of her speech. It was the arranging of flowers so as to
make them speak the language of her heart to another, a means of
communication in which the women of the East excel. Indeed it is the
only mode in which they can hold silent converse, since they know not
the cunning of the pen. Engaged in this gentle and pleasing
occupation, the Circassian passed hours and days in the study and
practice of the sweet language of flowers.
For hours together, while she was thus occupied, the idiot boy
would sit and watch her movements, and now and then receive some
kindly token of consideration from her hand that seemed to delight him
beyond measure. He followed her every movement with his eye, and
seemed only content when close by her side, sitting near her, patient
and silent; in fact he could utter but few audible sounds, and no one
had ever taught the poor idiot how to talk.
One afternoon, in the gardens that opened from the harem, the
Circassian had been engaged thus, sitting beneath the projecting roof
of a lattice-work summer house. The sun as it crept down towards the
western horizon threw lengthened shadows across the soft green sward
where minaret, cypress, or projecting angle of the palace intervened.
The boy would pick out one of those dark shadows, and sitting down
where it terminated, seem to think that he could keep it there, but
when the shadow lengthened every moment more and more, and seemed to
his untutored and simple comprehension to creep out from under him, he
would look amazed to see how it was done while he sat upon it.
In following up a projecting shadow thus, he had come at last
almost to the very side of the dumb slave just as a gaudy winged
parrot lit upon the eve of the summer house on a large piece of the
picket work that had been used as an ornament for its top, but which
having been broken from its position, had slid down to the very eaves
and now hung but half suspended upon the roof. Even the lighting of
the parrot upon its edge was sufficient to balance it from the fragile
support that retained it on the roof, and then it slid off
immediately above the head of the Circassian girl.
The boy was on his feet as quick as thought itself, and springing
to the spot, with both hands outspread above her head, he canted the
heavy frame work away from her so that it came upon the ground,
sinking deep into the earth from its sharp points and considerable
weight. Had the falling mass come upon her head, as it would most
inevitably have done but for the boy, its effect must have been
instantly fatal. The Circassian saw the imminent service the boy had
rendered her, but he was sitting on the end of another shadow in a
Was it reason or instinct that had caused him to make that
successful effort with such wonderful speed and accuracy? The slave
looked at him in wonder. It was very evident that he had already
forgotten the service which he had rendered, and the same listless,
childlike, and almost idiotic expression was in his face. this event
endeared the boy very much to the Circassian, and she never failed to
show him every kindness in her power. She would arrange his straggling
dress, and part his hair, smoothly away from his handsome forehead,
and give him always of each delicacy provided for herself, until the
boy seemed to feel himself almost solely dependent upon her, and to
seek her side as a faithful hound might have done.
Thus had time passed with the dumb slave in the Sultan's palace on
At times she would stroll among the rare beds of plants, and
culling fresh chaplets for her head, wreathe herself a fragrant
garland, ever finding some familiar scent that recalled her far off
home in all its freshness. Wearied of this she wandered among the
jasper fountains, and watched the play of those waters, the soft and
rippling music of which she might not hear, or still further on in
the many labyrinths of the garden and harem walks, would throw
herself upon some rich cushions beside a silver urn, where burnt
sweet aloes and sandal wood and rods of spice to perfume the air. At
early morn she loved to pet the blue pigeons that had been brought
from far off Mecca, held so sacred by the faithful, to feed them from
her own hands, and to toy with the golden thrushes from Hindostan, and
the gaudy birds of Paradise that flew about with other rare and
beautiful songsters in this fairy palace of the Sultan.
Her companions watching her with loving eyes, never faltered in
their kindness and love for her. Indeed it seemed as though they
could not avoid tendering her this affection, she was so very
beautiful and gentle in all things. They had named her Lalla, or the
tulip, because of her love for that beautiful and delicate flower.
The Sultan looked upon the young Circassian—she had numbered
hardly seventeen summers—more in the light of a daughter than a
slave, and she who could have feared him else, even looked with
pleasure for his coming, and sought in a thousand earnest but silent
ways to please him. There was no spirit of sycophancy in this, no
coquetry, or false pretense; she was all simpleness and truth, and her
conduct towards her master sprang alone from a sense of gratitude.
Thus too did the monarch translate her behaviour to him, for he was
well versed in human nature, young as he was, and could appreciate the
promptings of a young and trusting spirit, such as she exhibited in
all her intercourse with him.
As exhibited in our illustration, the Sultan would often seek her
side in the harem, his tall, manly form contrasting strongly with her
gentle and delicate proportions, and he would regard her thus with
tender solicitude, too fully realizing her misfortune not to pity and
respect her, and he felt too that these frequent meetings were binding
his heart in a tender bondage to her. Sultan Mahomet was a fine
specimen of a Turk; in features he was markedly handsome, and his
long, flowing beard gave to him the appearance of more age than was
rightfully his. His physical developments were manly, and to look upon
he was "every inch a king." Lalla was no less beautiful as a female;
indeed she was far handsomer as it related to such a comparison, and
those who saw them so often together in the harem could not but think
what a noble pair they were, and seemingly worthy of each other.
She possessed all that soft delicacy of appearance that reminds the
sterner sex how frail and dependent is woman, while she bore in her
face that sweet and winning expression of intellect, that, in other
climes more favored by civilization, and where cultivation adds so
much to the charms of her sex, would alone have marked her as
beautiful. Her eyes, which were surpassing in their dreamy
loveliness, were enhanced in beauty by a languid plaintiveness that a
realizing sense of her misfortunes had imparted to the expression of
her face, while her whole manner bore that subdued and quiet air that
sorrow ever imparts. Those of her companions who knew her best, could
easily understand that her heart was far away from her present home;
for her actions spoke this as plainly as might have ever been done by
words, and poor Lalla, wherever she had come from, and under whatever
circumstances, had evidently left her heart behind her among her
The Sultan was earnestly interested in his dumb but beautiful
slave, and instituted a series of inquiries as to her history. His
agents were instructed to find out, if possible, the mode in which she
had been brought hither, and also to learn, if possible, the manner
and cause of her leaving her native hills in the Caucasus; for of
these things the fair girl had no means of communicating. The monarch
and all Constantinople knew that her people generally looked forward
with joy to the time when they should be old enough to be taken to
the Turkish capital, and seek their fortunes there, and the fact of
this being so different apparently with Lalla, created the more
curiosity to ferret out her story.
But all their efforts were useless in the pursuit of this purpose.
Since the Sultan's object in the inquiry was announced, much time had
transpired; but had his proclamation met the eye or ear of those who
transported the fair Circassian hither, they would hardly have
responded to it, as it might, for aught they knew, cost them their
heads. And thus the gentle slave lived on, a mystery to those about
her which even she was unable to solve.
"You made all inquiries at the bazaar, good Mustapha?" asked the
"Most rigid inquiries, excellency."
"And could learn nothing of the history of this beautiful slave?"
continued the Sultan.
"It is very strange that no one can be found who knows aught about
her. Did you trace her back to those who sold her to the salesman of
"Yes, excellency, and two sales beyond that; but it seemed that
although so beautiful, the fact of her being dumb had caused her to
be very much undervalued, and she had passed through the hands of a
number of irresponsible slave merchants, who took but little heed of
her before she came to the bazaar."
"Doubtless, then, we may hardly expect to hear more concerning
"The reward you offered was munificent, excellency, but has brought
"You have not yet purchased for me those Georgians, good Mustapha,"
continued the monarch, after a few moments' pause, and probably
desiring to change a subject in which he felt that he was only too
"Excellency, they are held at so high a price that I have refused
to pay it."
"Well, well, be discreet, and purchase shrewdly," said the Sultan,
resuming his pipe.
And in this manner the Sultan forgot his lovely slave, and removing
the mouth-piece of his pipe now and then, continued to question his
slave touching the matters that seemed to pertain to his department
of the household.
Poor Lalla! she had only her own unhappiness to brood upon as she
sat by some rippling fountain and watched its silvery jets and
sparkling drops, at times forgetting for a moment her sadness of
heart in the beauty that completely surrounded her; and then again,
perhaps mingling her tears with the fragrant blossoms that strewed
her lap and filled her hands. Alas! poor child! how it would have
eased the quick beating of thy heart if thou couldst have told the
story of thy unhappiness to some other confiding spirit.
The idiot boy would watch these tears, and at times he would wear a
fixed, vacant stare, as though he took no note of their meaning; and
at others, he would seem to comprehend their sorrowful import. When
this was the case, he would creep close to her side and lay his head
by her feet, and closing his eyes, remain as motionless as death.
This would at length arouse her from her unhappy mood, and she would
turn and gently caress the poor boy. Once when she had done this, she
saw a large tear drop steal out from beneath his closed eyelids, and
fall across his check. She rejoiced at this, for, while all others set
him down as without feeling, she saw that kindness at least would
awaken his heart.
Lalla had been weeping, and now sat alone by a bed of fragrant
flowers, when one of those fairy-like children of the harem, scarcely
older than herself, came tripping with light and thoughtless steps
towards her, and detecting her saddened mood, kissed way the tears
that still lingered upon her cheeks, and binding a wreath of fresh and
beautiful flowers about her head, lay down in Lalla's lap and toyed
with the stray buds, looking up into her eyes with gentle love and
How grateful were these delicate and beautiful manifestations of
feeling to the lonely-hearted slave.
CHAPTER III. THE BEDOUIN ARABS.
It was one of those soft days, made up of nature's sweetest smiles,
of sunshine and gentle zephyrs, when sky, and sea, and shore were
radiant, and all the earth seemed glad, that a lone horseman sat with
the reins cast loosely upon the arching neck of his proud Arabian, on
the plain beyond the Armenian cemetery, in the suburbs of
Constantinople. The rider was dressed in the plainest attire of a
quiet citizen, though the material of his clothes and the few
ornaments that were visible about his person indicated their owner to
be one who was no meagre possessor of the riches of this world. Both
rider and horse were as still as though they had been carved in marble
instead of being living objects, save the quick, nervous motion, now
and then, of the full-blooded animal's ears, as some distant sound
rose over the Turkish city.
The Mussulman, as he sat there in a thoughtful and silent mood,
stroked slowly the jetty black beard that swept his breast, while he
seemed completely absorbed in contemplating the scene before him. He
had galloped at once from paved streets to the unfenced and
uncultivated desert that stretches away from the seven hills of
Stamboul to the very horizon. No wonder he paused there to gaze upon
the beauties that the eye might take in at a single glance.
Before him lay the city in all its oriental beauty, while, on every
sloping hillside about it, in every rural nook stood a dark
nekropolis, or city of the dead, shadowed by the close growing
cypresses, beneath whose shadows turbaned heads alone are permitted
to rest. From out of these, stretching its slender point away towards
the blue heavens, rose the fairy-like minaret, as if pointing whither
had gone the spirits of the faithful.
There, too, lay the incomparable Bosphorus, stretching away towards
the sea, and the beautiful isles in the sweet waters of Marmora, with
countless boats swarming in the Golden Horn, and then the eye would
turn back again to the city with its thousand minarets. There lay,
too, the velvet-carpeted Valley of Sweet Waters, where was the
Sultan's serai, looking like some fair scene described in the Koran,
so soft, fairy-like, and enticing.
The rider now slowly gathered up the reins from his horse's neck,
and. slightly restraining the spirited animal by a pressure of the
curb, permitted him slowly to walk on while his master appeared still
to be lost in thought. Once or twice he cast his eyes again towards
the city, and then again mused to himself, as though his cares and
thoughts lay there. So much was the rider absorbed within himself that
he did not observe two power Bedouin Arabs of the desert, who had
wandered to the outskirts of the city, and whose longing eyes were
bent, not on him, but upon the horse which he rode. To the skillful
eyes of these children of the desert he was almost invaluable; every
step betrayed his metal, while the clean limb, nervous action, and
distended nostrils told of the fleetness that was in him!
You may trust an Arab often with gold or precious goods; the very
fact of the confidence, you accord to him makes him faithful. You may
trust your life in his hands, and the laws of hospitality shall
protect you; but trust him not with a fine horse—that will betray
him, though nothing else might do so. Born in the desert where they
are reared and loved so well, he imbibes from childhood a regard for
the full blooded barb, that falls little short of reverence; and
being once possessed of one, no money can part them. The two Bedouins
stealthily watched the Turk as he rode slowly along, and were
evidently only awaiting a favorable moment to attack and overcome him.
By an ingenious movement they doubled a slight hillock that lay
between them and the woods of Belgrade, and as they came up on the
other side, placed themselves directly in the path of the horseman.
Still they were unobserved by him, and not until one had laid his
hand upon the bridle, and the other violent hands upon his garments,
did he arouse from the dreamy thoughts which had so completely
absorbed him. Thus taken at disadvantage, the horseman was forced
from the saddle before he could offer any resistance, but having once
reached the ground, and being fairly on his feet, his bright blade
glistened in the sun and flashed before the eyes of the Arab robbers.
"Yield us the horse and go thy way!" said one of the assailants,
"By the Prophet, never!" shouted the Turk, setting upon them
fiercely as he spoke and wounding one severely at the very outset,
while he held the bridle of the horse.
The horseman was one used to the weapon he wielded, and the Arabs
saw that they had no easy enemy to conquer. He who held the horse was
forced to unloose the bridle to defend himself, while the other was
now striving to use the gun that was strapped to his back; but they
were at too close quarters for the employing of such a weapon, and the
stout, iron-like frames of the Arabs were fast conquering the skill
and endurance of the Turk. But that bright sword was not wielded so
skillfully for naught, and one of the robbers was already glad to
creep from without its reach, just as his companion succeeded in
breaking the finely-tempered blade with his gun barrel, leaving the
Turk comparatively at his mercy; and again he bade him surrender the
horse, the animal trained to the nicest point of perfection, still
remaining quiet close to the spot where the encounter had taken place.
The clashing of the weapons had startled him, and he breathed quick,
and his ears showed that the nervous energy of his frame was aroused,
but a spear point thrust into his very flanks would not have started
him away until his master bade him to go.
"Yield thou now, or die!" shouted the excited Bedouin, drawing his
"By the Prophet, never!" again exclaimed the Turk, with vehemence,
though he panted sorely from the extraordinary exertion he had made
to defend himself from the attack of his two assailants.
All this had transpired in far less time than we have occupied in
the relation, and once more now having him greatly at disadvantage,
the Bedouins rushed upon him.
But there came now upon the scene a third party, at this excited
moment, from out the forest of Belgrade. He seemed but a weary
traveller, though when his eyes rested upon the scene we have
described, an instantaneous change came over him, and he appeared at
once to comprehend the meaning of the whole affair. Just at the very
moment when the Arab, who had been partially vanquished and somewhat
severely wounded, regained his feet, and was coming once more to the
contest, the traveller, espousing the side of the weaker party, who
was now indeed unarmed, fiercely attacked the robbers with a heavy
staff that he carried, and in a moment, being comparatively fresh,
and aided by the surprise as well as the lusty blows that he dealt
about him, he caused the two Bedouins to retreat precipitately,
though they made a last and nearly successful effort to carry off the
horse, but this the ready arm of the traveller prevented.
A moment sufficed to put both the Turk and his deliverer in breath
"Who art thou that hast been so opportunely sent to rescue me?"
asked the Turk, at he called his horse by his name, and the beautiful
animal came quietly to his side.
"A poor traveller, well nigh wearied by the long way," answered the
"Thy habiliments bespeak thee as coming from the North, and they
look as though want had been thy companion on the way," continued he
whom the traveller had rescued.
"It has, indeed," said the other; "fatigue and want have kept me
company these many long days." As he answered thus, he wiped the
perspiration that his late exertion had caused, from his brow.
"I owe you my hearty thanks for this timely service," said the
"A trifling deed that any man in my place would have performed."
"Take this," replied the Turk, depositing a purse, heavy with gold,
in the stranger's hands. "Use the contents as you will, and when you
have need of further assistance, if there be aught that one
possessing some influence can serve thee in, present that purse at
the gates of the seraglio gardens, and you will find me."
"Thanks! a thousand thanks!" said the stranger, "though I must look
upon this as a gift, a charity, not in the light of a payment. The
service I have rendered might have been afforded by the meanest
"I know well how to esteem a favor, and how to pay it," answered
the Turk, as he mounted his spirited horse and turned his head towards
the entrance of the city of Constantine. He rode with a free rein
now, and the horse dashed over the level plain like an antelope,
while his rider sat in the saddle like a Marmaluke.
The traveller poured out a quantity of the gold from the purse to
assure himself of its value, and weighing the whole together, said to
himself, "A few moments since and I was a beggar, now I am rich; after
starving for many long weeks, fortune fills my hand with gold, as if
to show me the contrast. It was a piece of singular good luck for me
to meet with that rich old Turk; those fellows from the desert were
giving him sharp practice; it was only the barb that they wanted. What
a cunning eye those rascals have for horseflesh!" Talking thus to
himself, he placed the gold in a secure part of his dress, though he
need hardly have feared that any one would suspect him of possessing
so much of value.
The traveller turned once more to look after the Turk, but he was
already far away, though he could still make out his bearing and
stately carriage as he disappeared. Picking up the staff that had
just served him to such good purpose, he followed in the same path,
which would lead him to Constantinople, ere the sun should set in the
As he drew nearer to the city he too paused to drink in of the
beauties of that twilight hour. The scene was new to him, and his eye
was filled with delight and surprise as it roamed over that oriental
sunset view. As he came down the side of the gently sloping hill
beyond Pera, he paused for a moment in the cemetery there, and among
the deep shadows of the heavy funereal cypresses and the tall, white
gravestones that thickly overspread the ground, he felt a chill of
loneliness that made him to hasten on to a spot where he could catch
the last lingering rays of the setting sun kissing the waves of the
He hurried on now into the city proper, though seemingly without
any fixed purpose, and strolled carelessly along, gazing with interest
upon all that met his curious eye; now pausing before some rich
Persian fountain half as large as a church, covered with curious
inscriptions and ornaments of gold; now regarding some sequestered
mosque almost hidden in cypresses; and now watching a cluster of
indolent-looking, large-trowsered, and moustached, but often handsome
Here he was jostled by a bevy of females, shuffling along in their
yellow slippers, their faces shrouded to the eyes in that
never-forgotten covering with the Turkish wives, the yashmach; now
crowded one side by an armed kervos who is clearing the way for some
dignitary to follow; and now forced here and there by, Jew, Turk or
Armenian. But still, while he regarded intently this busy scene, he
yielded the way to all, for he was wearied and his spirits were
evidently depressed both by physical and mental suffering.
The traveller was started from his reverie by the attack upon him
of some hundred dogs, who saluted his ears with such a volley of howls
as nearly to stun him. These natural scavengers are protected by the
laws here, and whenever a stranger is seen, one whose dress or manner
betrays him as such, they set upon him like mad, but the staff that
had stood him in such good service not long before, soon dispersed his
canine tormentors, though he showed that even this little circumstance
annoyed him seriously; it was a sad welcome to a stranger.
Perhaps there is no feeling more desolate and forsaken in its
promptings than that realized by one who finds himself alone in a
crowd. His inward solitude is more acutely realized by the contrast
he sees about him, and he feels how much he is alone. Thus it was
with the young traveller who had made his way into the city as we
have described; he was indeed solitary though surrounded by hosts,
for he was a stranger and knew no one in the Sultan's beautiful
Still he wandered on amid the crowd until at last he found himself
in the drug bazaar, where a scene so peculiarly oriental and rich met
his observation as to make him forget for a while his own sad and
weary mood. Strange and antique jars of every shape crowded the
shelves of the various stalls, their edges turned over with brilliant
colored paper, each drug bearing its own appropriate one. The shelves
were bending under the weight of rich gums, spices, incense-wood,
medicinal roots, and cunning dyes. The sedate Turk who presides over
each stall at this hour, sits with his legs crossed and his eyes
rolling in a sort of dreamy languor from the powerful narcotic of his
opium-drugged pipe. He is happy and thoughtless in the dissipation
that sooner or later hurries him to the grave.
It was the corflew hour, and from out the lofty spires of the
neighboring mosques there came a voice that called to prayer. Each
Mussulman prostrated himself, no matter in what occupation he was
engaged, and bowing his head towards Mecca, the tomb of the Prophet,
performing his silent devotion. In famine, in pestilence, or in
plenty, five times a day the Turk finds time for this solemn
religious duty; whether right or wrong in creed, what a lesson it is
to the Christian. And so thought the lonely traveller, for he bent
his own head upon his breast in respectful awe at the exhibition he
Pausing in silence until the scene had changed from the solemn act
of prayer to that of busy life, he passed out of the dim-lighted
bazaar once more into the open street. Night was fast creeping over
the city, and he remembered how much he required rest and
refreshment, and availing himself of the proffered services of a
Jewish interpreter, he told his wants, and not long after found
himself seated in one of the little Armenian houses of resort in the
outskirts of Stamboul.
Here again he found enough of character to study in the singular
and medley company that resorted thither, but wayworn and weary, after
partaking of some refreshment, he soon lost himself in sleep.
It was late on the subsequent morning when the traveller awoke,
greatly refreshed by his night's rest, and once more refreshing the
inner man with meats and such coffee as one gets only in Turkey, he
roamed again into the streets, where we must leave him to pursue his
purpose, be it what it might, while we turn to other scenes in our
story, taking the reader across the sea, to another, hut no loss
CHAPTER IV. VALES OF CIRCASSIA.
Circassia, the land of beauty and oppression, whose noble valleys
produce such miracles of female loveliness, and whose level plains
are the vivid scenes of such terrible struggles; where a brave,
unconquerable peasantry have, for a very long period, defied the
combined powers of the whole of Russia, and whose daughters, though
the children of such brave sires, are yet taught and reared from
childhood to look forward to a life of slavery in a Turkish harem as
the height of their ambition—Circassia, the land of bravery, beauty
and romance, is one of the least known, but most interesting spots in
Whether it be that the genial air of its hills and vales possesses
power to beautify the forms and faces of its daughters, or that they
inherit those charms from their ancestors by right of blood, we may
not say; but from the farthest dates, it has ever supplied the Sultan
and his people with the lovely beings who have rendered of the harems
of the Mussulmen so celebrated for the charms they enshrine. Its
daughters have been n the mothers of the highest dignitaries of the
courts, and Sultan Mahomet himself was born of a Circassian mother.
Unendowed with mental culture, Providence has seemed, in a degree,
to compensate to the girls of Circassia for want of intellectual
brilliancy, by rendering them physically beautiful almost beyond
description. No wonder, then, educated, or rather uneducated as they
are, that the visions of their childhood, the dreams of their girlish
days, and even the aspirations of their riper years, should be in the
anticipation of a life of independence, luxury and love, in those
fairy-like homes that skirt the Bosphorus at Constantinople.
Being from their earliest childhood taught by their parents to look
upon this destiny as an enviable one, these fair girls do not fail to
appreciate and fully realize the captivating charms that Heaven has so
liberally endowed them with, and wait with trembling breasts and
hopeful hearts for the period when they shall change the humble scenes
of their existence, from the long and rugged ravines of the Caucasus,
for the glittering and gaudy palaces of the Mussulmen, in the Valley
of Sweet Waters, or on the banks of the Golden Horn.
In former years, the Trebizond merchantman took on board his cargo
of young and lovely Circassians, and navigated the Black Sea with a
flowing sheet and a flag flying at his peak, which told his business
and the commerce that he was engaged in; now the trade is contraband,
and the slave ship has to pick its way cautiously about the island of
Crimea, and keep a sharp lookout to avoid the Russian war steamers
that skirt the entire coast, and keep up a never-ceasing blockade from
the Georgian shore to the ancient port of Anapa.
This latter place was, for centuries, one of vital importance to
the Circassians, being their general depot or rendezvous for the trade
between themselves and the ports that lay at the other extreme of the
Black Sea. It was the point where they were always sure to find a
ready market for their females, receiving as payment in exchange from
the Turks, fire-arms, ammunition and gold. But at last the Russians,
assuming a virtue that did not actuate them, stormed and took the
fort, ostensibly to put a stop to this trade, as opposed to the
principles it involved, but in reality to stop the supplies that
enabled the brave mountaineers to oppose them so successfully.
In the country lying immediately back of Anapa, there is a
succession of hills and vales of surpassing loveliness, presenting
the extremes of wild and rugged mountain scenery, joining fertile
plains and beautiful valleys, where, among fragrant and luxuriant
groves, many a fair creature has grown up to be brought to the slave
market and sold for a price. Vales where brave and stalwart youths
have been nurtured and taught the dexterous use of arms, being ever
educated to look upon the Russians as their natural enemies, and also
to believe that any revenge exercised upon their Moscovite neighbors
was not only commendable, but holy and just.
In a valley opening towards the north, a short league above the
port of Anapa, at the time of our story there dwelt two families,
named Gymroc and Adegah. Both these families traced their ancestry
back to noble chiefs, who, in the days of Circassian glory and
independence, were at the head of large and powerful tribes of their
countrymen. These families, from the fact that they were thus
descended, were still held by the mountaineers who lived about them in
reverence, and their words had double weight in council when important
subjects were discussed; and indeed the present head of each was often
chosen to lead them on to the almost constantly recurring battles and
bloody guerilla contests that transpired between the mountaineers and
their enemies, the Russian Cossacks.
The family of Gymroc was blessed with a fair daughter, an only
child, who, though living among a people who were so universally
endowed with loveliness in their gentler sex, was famed for her
transcendent loveliness far and near, and the youths of the
neighboring valleys and plains sighed in their hearts to think that
the fairest flower in all Circassia was but blooming to shed its
ripened fragrance and loveliness in the harem of some dark and
bearded Mahometan, to be the toy of some rich and heartless Turk.
One there was among the young mountaineers, Aphiz Adegah, whose
whole life and soul seemed bound up in the lovely Komel, as she was
called. Neither was more than eighteen; indeed Komel was not so old,
for but sixteen full summers had passed over her head. They had grown
up together from very childhood, played together, worked together,
sharing each other's burthens, and mutually aiding each other; now
quietly watching the sheep and goats upon the hillsides, and now
working side by side in the fields, content and happy, so they were
Komel was almost too beautiful. With every grace and delicacy of
outline that has, for centuries, rendered her sex so famed in her
native land, she added also a sweet, natural intelligence, which,
though all uncultivated, was yet ever beaming from her eyes, and
speaking forth from her face. Her form possessed a most captivating
voluptuous fullness, without once trespassing upon the true lines of
female delicacy. Her large and lustrous eyes were brilliant yet
plaintive, her lips red and full, and the features generally of a
delicate Grecian cast. Her hair was of that dark, glossy hue, that
defies comparison, and was heavy and luxuriant in its fullness.
Some one has said that no one can write real poetry until he has
known the sting of unhappiness; and sure it is that beauty ever lacks
that moss-rose finish that tender melancholy throws about it, until it
has known what sorrow is. Komel had been called to mourn, and
melancholy had thrown about her a gentle glow of plaintiveness, as a
grateful angel added another grace to the rose that had sheltered its
slumber, by a shroud of moss.
While she was yet but a little child, her only brother, but little
older than herself, and whom she loved with all the sisterly
tenderness of her young heart, had strayed away from home to the
seaside, and been drowned. From that day she had sorrowed for his
loss, and even now as memory recalled her early playmate, the tears
would dim her eyes, nor did her spirits seem ever entirely free from
the grief that had imbued them at her brother's loss. This hue of
tender melancholy was in Komel only an additional beauty, as we have
said, and lent its witchery to her other charms.
To say that Komel was insensible to all her personal advantages
would be unreasonable, and supposing her not possessed of an ordinary
degree of perception. She knew that she was fair, nay, that she was
more beautiful than any of the youthful companions of her native
valley; but whatever others might have anticipated for her, she had
never looked forward, as nearly all of her sex do, in Circassia, to a
splendid foreign home across the Black Sea. No, no; her young and
loving heart had already made its choice of him she had so long and
tenderly loved,—him who had stepped in when there was that vacant
spot in her heart that her brother's loss had left, and filled it; for
he had been both brother and lover to her from the tenderest years of
childhood. They had probably thought little upon the subject of their
relation to each other, and had said less, until Komel was nearly
sixteen, and then it was only in that tender and hopeful strain of a
happy future, and that future to be shared by each other.
Aphiz was as noble and generous in spirit as he was handsome in
person. Nature had cast him in a sinewy, yet graceful form; his
native mountain air and vigorous habits had ripened his physical
developments to an early manliness and already had he more than once
charged the enemy upon the open plains of his native land. His
falchion had glanced in the tide of battle, and his stout arm had
dealt many a fatal blow to the Cossack forces, that sought to conquer
and possess themselves of all Circassia. It was a stern school for the
young mountaineer, and it was well, as he grew up in this manner, that
there was always the tender and chastening association before his
mind, of his love for the gentle and beautiful girl who had given her
young heart into his keeping. He needed such promptings to enable him
to combat the rough associations of the camp, and the hardening duty
of a soldier in time of war.
It was, therefore, to her side that he came for that true happiness
that emanates from the better feelings of the heart; by her side that
he enjoyed the quiet but grand scenery of their native hills and
valleys, looking, as it were, through each other's eyes at every
beauty, either of thought or that lay tangible before them.
Though both Komel and Aphiz had been thrice happy in their constant
intercourse in the days of childhood, though those day. so well
remembered, had been to them like a pleasant morning filled with
song, or the gliding on of a summer stream, and were marked only by
truthfulness and peaceful content, still both realized as they now
entered upon a riper age of youth, that they were far happier than
ever before, that they loved each other better, and all things about
them. It is an error to suppose that childhood is the happiest period
of life, though philosophers tell us so, for a child's pleasures are
like early spring flowers—pretty, but pale, and fleeting, and
scentless. The rich and fragrant treasures of the heart are not
developed so early; they come with life's summer, and thus it was with
these Circassian youths.
Growing up daily and hourly together to that period when love holds
strongest sway over the heart, both felt how happily they could kneel
before Heaven and be pronounced one and inseparable; but Aphiz was
poor and had no home to offer a bride, besides which, the character of
the times was sufficient to prevent their more prudent parents from
yielding their consent to such an arrangement as their immediate
union, though they offered no opposition to their intimacy.
Komel was of such a happy and cheerful disposition at heart that
she scattered pleasure always about her, but Aphiz's very love
rendered him thoughtful and perhaps at times a little melancholy; for
he feared that some future chance might in an unforeseen, way rob him
of her who was so ineffably dear to him. He did not exactly fear that
Komel's parents would sell her to go to Constantinople, though they
were now, since war and pestilence had swept away lands, home and
title, poor enough; and yet there was an undefined fear ever acting in
his heart as to her he loved. Sometimes when he realized this most
keenly, he could not help whispering his forebodings to Komel herself.
"Nay, dear Aphiz," she would say to him, with a gentle smile upon
her countenance, "let not that shadow rest upon thy brow, but rather
look with the sun on the bright side of everything. Am I not a simple
and weak girl, and yet I am cheerful and happy, while thou, so strong,
so brave and manly, art ever fearing some unknown ill."
"Only as it regards thee, Komel, do I fear anything."
"That's true, but I should inspire thee with joy, not fear and
"It is only the love I bear thee, dearest, that makes me so
jealous, so anxious, so fearful lest some chance should rob me of thee
forever," he would reply tenderly.
"It is ever thus; what is there to fear, Aphiz?"
"I know not, dearest. No one feared your gentle brother's loss
years ago, and yet one day he woke happy and cheerful, and went forth
to play, but never came back again."
"You speak too truly," answered the beautiful girl with a sigh,
"and yet because harm came to him, it is no reason that it should come
to me, dear Aphiz."
"Still the fear that aught may happen to separate us is enough to
make me sad, Komel."
"Father says, that it is troubles which never happen that chiefly
make men miserable," answered the happy-spirited girl, as she laid
her head pleasantly upon Aphiz's arm.
They stood at her father's door in the closing hour of the day when
they spoke thus, and hardly had Aphiz's words died upon his lips when
the attention of both was directed towards the heavy, dark form of a
mountain-hawk, as it swept swiftly through the air, and poising itself
for an instant, marked where a gentle wood dove was perched upon a
projecting bough in the valley. Komel laid her hand with nervous
energy upon Aphiz's arm. The hawk was beyond the reach of his rifle,
and realizing this he dropped its breach once more to his side. A
moment more and the bolder bird was bearing its prey to its mountain
nest, there to feed upon it innocent body. Neither Komel nor Aphiz
uttered one word, but turned sadly away from the scene that had seemed
so applicable to the subject of their conversation. He bade her a
tender good night, but as the young mountaineer wended his way down
the valley he was sad at heart, and asked himself if Komel might not
be that dove.
So earnestly was he impressed with this idea, after the
conversation which had just occurred, that twice he turned his steps
and resolved to seek the lofty cliff where the hawk had flown, as
though he could yet release the poor dove; then remembering himself,
he would once more press the downward path to the valley.
It was not to be presumed that Komel should not have found other
admirers among the youths of her native valley. She had touched the
hearts of many, though being no coquette, they soon learned to forget
her, seeing how much her heart was already another's. This, we say,
was generally the case, but there was one exception, in the person of
a young man but little older than Aphiz, whose name was Krometz. He
had loved Komel truly, had told her so, and had been gently refused
her own affection by her; but still he persevered, until the love he
had borne her had turned to something very unlike love, and he
resolved in his heart that if she loved not him, neither should she
At one time when Aphiz was in the heat of battle, charging upon the
Russian infantry, suddenly he staggered, reeled and fell, a bullet
had passed into his chest near the heart. His comrades raised him up
and brought him off the battle-field, and after days of painful
suffering he recovered, and was once more as well as ever, little
dreaming that the bullet which had so nearly cost him his life came
from one of his own countrymen. Could the ball have been examined, it
would have fitted exactly Krometz's rifle!
Though the rifle shot had failed, Krometz's enmity had in no way
abated; he only watched for an opportunity more successfully to
effect the object that now seemed to be the motive of his life.
Before Komel he was all gentleness, and affected the highest sense of
honor, but at heart he was all bitterness and revenge.
Another chapter will show the treacherous and deep game that the
rejected lover played.
CHAPTER V. THE SLAVE SHIP.
It was on a fair summer's evening that a beautiful English built
craft, after having beat up the Black Sea all day against the ever
prevailing a north-cast wind, now gathered in her light sails and
barely kept steerageway by still spreading her jib and mainsail. With
the setting sun the breeze had lulled also to rest, and there was but
a cap full now coming from off the mountains of the Caucasus, just
enough to keep the little clipper steady in hand.
It would be difficult to define the exact class to which the rig of
this craft would make her belong, there was so much that was English
in the hull and raking step of her masts, while the rigging, and the
way in which she was managed, smacked so strongly of the
Mediterranean that her nation also might have puzzled one familiar
with such a subject. The lofty spread of canvas, the jib, flying-jib
and fore-staysail, that are rarely worn save by the larger class of
merchantmen, gave rather an odd appearance to a craft that could
count hardly more than an hundred tons measurement.
Besides her fore and mainsail, and those already named, the
schooner, for so we must call her, carried two heavy, but graceful
topsails upon her fore and mainmasts, and even a jigger sail or
spanker and gaff above it, on a slender spur rigged from the quarter
deck. Altogether the schooner with her various appurtenances,
resembled such a yacht as some of the English noblemen sail in the
channel and about the Isle of Man in the sporting season.
The schooner was not unobserved from the shore, and a careful
observer could have noticed a group of persons that were evidently
regarding her with no common interest from the landing just above the
harbor of Anapa.
"That must be the craft that has been so long expected," said one
of the group, "and we had best get our girls ready at once to put on
board before the morning."
"This comes in a bad time, for the steamer should be here before
"That's true; as she doesn't seem inclined to run in too close,
perhaps she knows it."
"What was the signal agreed upon?" asked the first speaker of his
companion, who was silently regarding the schooner.
"A red flag at the foretopmast head, and there it goes. Yes, it is
here sure enough."
"How like a witch she looks."
"They say she will outsail anything between here and Gibraltar, in
"What does that mean? she's going about."
"Sure enough, and up goes her foresail, they work with a will and
are in a hurry."
"She don't like the looks of something on the coast," said the
The fact was, while the schooner lay under the easy sail we have
described, just off the port of Anapa, the little Russian government
steamer that plies between Odessa and the ports along the Circassian
coast held by the emperor's troops, hove in sight, having just come
down the Sea of Azoff through the Straits of Yorkcale. Her dark line
of smoke was discovered by those on board the schooner, before she
had doubled the headland of Tatman, and it was very plain, that, let
the schooner's purpose be what it might, she desired to avoid all
unnecessary observation, and especially that of the steamer.
A single movement of the helm while the mainsail sheet was eased
away, and the schooner brought the gentle night breeze that was still
setting from the north and east off the Georgian shore, right aft, and
quietly hoisting her foresail, the two were set wing and wing, and a
sea bird could not have skimmed with a more easy and graceful motion
over the deep waters that glanced beneath her hull, than she did now.
If the steamer had desired she might have overhauled the schooner, but
it would have taken all night to do it with that leading wind in her
favor; and so, after looking towards the clipper craft with her bows
for a moment, the steamer again held on her course.
"Too swift of wing for that smoke pipe of yours," said one of the
Circassians who had been watching the evolutions of the two crafts
from the shore.
"The steamer has put her helm down and gives it up for it bad job,"
said another, as her black bow came once more to look towards the
port of Anapa.
"She will be off before night sets in, and we shall have the
schooner back again."
This was in fact the policy of those on board the schooner; for no
sooner did she find herself unpursued than she hauled her wind, jibed
her foresail to starboard and looked down, towards the coast of Asia
Minor, until the moon crept up from behind the mountains of the
Caucasus as though it had come from a bath in the Caspian Sea beyond,
when the schooner was closer hauled on the other trick, and bore up
again for the harbor of Anapa.
We have said that the little clipper numbered some hundred tons,
but though her appearance would indicate this to be the case, yet your
thorough-bred sailor would have marked how stiffly she bore so much
top hamper, and would have judged more correctly by the depth of
water that the schooner evidently drew. It was plain that she was
deep and much heavier than she looked. A few sprightly Greek youths,
in their picturesque costume were dispersed here and there in the
waist and on the forecastle, while two or three persons wearing the
same dress and evidently of that nation, were talking together in a
group upon the weather-side of the quarter-deck.
As the hours drew towards midnight, the schooner at length opened
communication with the land by means of signal lanterns, and
immediately after boats commenced to ply between the clipper and the
shore, and continued to do so for several hours. It was plain enough
to any one who knew the usages and trade of these waters, that the
schooner was preparing to run a cargo of Circassian girls, the trade
having been, as we have already shown, made contraband by the
At last the clipper seemed to have received all on board that she
expected in the shape of passengers, but still stood off and on for
some reason until the breaking day began to tinge the mountain tops
beyond Anapa; when a last boat with five persons, one of whom was a
female, came down to the clipper which was thrown in the wind's eye
long enough for those to get on board, or rather for three of them to
do so; and then, as the other two pulled back to the shore, the
schooner gradually came round under the force of her topsail, and one
sail after another was distended and sheeted home until she looked to
those on shore as though enveloped in canvas, and drove over the
waters like a flying cloud.
One of those who pulled away from the schooner as she lay her
course, would have been recognized by the reader as Krometz; and now
half way to the landing he motioned his companion to cease rowing,
while he paused himself and looked after the receding clipper with a
strange medley of expression pictured in his face.
"Give way, give way," said his companion at last, somewhat
impatiently; "one would think, by the way you look seaward, that you
would like to head in that direction instead of pulling into the
"You are right, comrade. I do wish that yonder clipper was carrying
me away from here."
"You are a queer fellow, Krometz, to let that girl make you so
unhappy, but she's off now, and will probably bring up in some
Turkish harem, where she will end her days. Not so bad a fate
either," continued the oarsman. "Surrounded by every luxury the heart
could wish or the imagination conceive, it's a better lot than either
yours or mine."
"Well, say no more of this, and remember the utmost secrecy is to
be observed, for that tiger of an Aphiz will hunt us to death if he
does but suspect that we had a hand in the business."
"Our disguise was sufficient," said the other, "and by-the-way, we
may as well get rid of this black stuff now;" and as he spoke he
dashed the water from alongside upon his face and hands, and removed
a coat of black from them.
"Now give way again; let us get in, and separate before any one is
Leaving Krometz and his companion to pursue their own business, and
the clipper craft with her course laid for the Sea of Marmora, we
will, with the reader, return once more to the mountain side where we
met Komel and Aphiz.
In time of peace, or rather when there was no open outbreak between
the Circassians and the Russian forces, Aphiz Adegah passed his time
in hunting among the rugged hills and cliffs, and with the early morn
was abroad with his gun strapped to his back, and in his hand the long
iron-pointed staff that helped him to climb the otherwise inaccessible
rocks of the mountain's sides. Thus equipped, he came, in the morning
referred to above, to the cottage of Komel's parents, but, instead of
the cheerful, happy welcome that usually greeted him on such
occasions, he beheld consternation and misery written in the father's
face, while the mother wept as though her heart would break.
"What means this strange scene?" asked the young hunter, hastily.
"Where is Komel?"
"Alas! gone, gone," sighed both.
"Ay, gone forever."
"What mean you? whither has she gone? what has happened to render
you so miserable?"
Alas, Aphiz; Komel has gone to be the star of some proud Turkish
harem," said the father.
"And with your consent?"
"No! O, no!"
"Nor by her own free will, that I know," he continued, quickly.
"Alas! no; this night she was stolen from us, and we saw her borne
away before our very eyes."
"Was there no one by to strike a blow for her, no one to render you
"Yes, one there was, an honest friend who lives in the next
cottage. He was aroused by the noise, and outraged by the violence he
beheld, he rushed upon the thieves, but they struck him bleeding and
dead to the earth. It was a terrible sight and poor Komel saw it as
they carried her away, and uttered such a fearful, piercing scream
that it seems to ring in our cars even now. She fainted then in their
arms, and we saw her no more."
"Heaven guard her!" said Aphiz, with inward anguish expressed in
"Amen!" said the aged father, with a deep, heartfelt sigh, full of
This told the whole story of the previous night, and the last boat
that put off from, the shore for the clipper schooner contained Komel
as a prisoner, insensible to all about, abducted by her own
countrymen, incited by the revengeful spirit of Krometz. Actuated by
the vilest motives himself, he had persuaded a companion, as we have
seen, by a small bribe and the representation that Komel would in
reality be better off than with her parents, to aid him in his
object. Krometz had not hesitated to receive the handsome sum that
one so beautiful as Komel could not fail to command.
Aphiz was almost too miserable to be able to find words to express
his feelings. A bitter tear stole down his sunburnt check as he saw
the mother's grief, but a stern flash of the eye was also visible in
the expression of his face. He sought at once the highest cliff
beyond the cottage, and in the distant, far-off horizon, could dimly
make out the white canvas of the slave cutter, no bigger than a
sea-bird, on the skirts of the horizon. He sat down in the bitterness
of his anguish, alone and heart-broken, and then he remembered the
scene of the previous evening, how they both together had seen the
hawk pounce down and carry off in its talons the poor wood dove.
That scene, so suggestive to his mind, was not without its meaning.
It was the forerunner of the calamity under which his heart now
grieved so bitterly. Aphiz Adegah's life had been a bold one, he knew
no fear. The air of his native hills was not freer than his own spirit
and as he looked off once more at the tiny white speck in the distance
that marked the spot where Komel was, his resolution was instantly
made, and he swore to follow and rescue her.
It was but natural that the young mountaineer should desire to find
out the agency by which that evil business had been consummated. He
knew very well that such a plan as Komel's abduction could not have
been perpetrated without the aid of parties that knew her and her
home, but never for one moment did he suspect Krometz. He had ever
professed the warmest friendship for both him and Komel, and he was
deemed honest. But during the melee, when the honest mountaineer had
rushed to Komel's rescue, and had received the fatal blow, her
parents heard a voice that they recognized, and both exclaimed, "Can
that voice be Krometz's!"
This was afterwards made known to Aphiz, and with this clue, though
he could scarcely believe that there was the possibility of fact or
correctness in the surmise, he sought his pretended friend. He
charged him with the evidence and its inference, and bade him speak
and say if this was true.
"It matters not, friend Aphiz, since she is gone, how she came to
"This answer," said the young mountaineer, "is but another evidence
"Do you pretend to call me to an account, Aphiz? You are but a boy,
while I have already reached the full age of manhood. Think not,
because you were more successful with that girl, than I, that you can
lord it over me. I shall answer no further charges from you."
"Krometz, your guilt speaks out in every line of your face," said
the excited Aphiz. "Meet me at sunset behind the signal rock on the
cliff, and we will settle this affair together."
"I will neither meet thee, nor account to thee for aught I may have
"The, as true as to-morrow's sun shall rise, with this good rifle I
will shoot you to the heart. I shall be there at the sunset hour;
fail me, and to-morrow you shall die."
Krometz knew well with whom he had to deal; he knew if he met
Aphiz, as he proposed, there would be a chance for his life, but if he
failed him, he feared the unerring aim of his rifle. He was no
coward—both of them had faced the enemy together, but he lacked the
moral courage that is far more sustaining than mere dogged bravery,
or contempt for immediate danger. Thus influence, at sunset he kept
The young mountaineer had been taught this mode of resort to arms
by the Russian and Polish officers who had been thrown much among
them. They had no seconds, but fought alone, starting back to back,
walking forward five paces, wheeling and firing together. The
position was on the brink of a precipice, and he who fell would be
hurled at once down an immense depth. Aphiz was desperate, Krometz
reckless; they fired and the body of the latter fell over the cliff.
Aphiz was unharmed.
In a moment after he realized his situation, has act, however just,
had made him a fugitive, and he must fly at once from those scenes of
his boyish love and happiness.
CHAPTER VI. A SINGULAR MEETING.
Turning from the mountain scenes we have described, let us back
once more to Constantinople, and direct our footsteps up the fragrant
valley where the Barbyses threads its meandering course. Here let us
look once more into the gilded cage that holds the Sultan's
favorites, where art had exhausted itself to form a fairy-like spot,
as beautiful as the imagination could conceive. We find here, once
more, amid the fragrant atmosphere and the playing fountains, the
form of Lalla, and by her side again that form, before which all the
tribes of the faithful kneel in humble submission. It was strange
what a potent charm the dumb but beautiful Circassian had thrown
about herself. It seemed as though some fairy circle enshrined her,
within which no harm might possibly reach the gentle slave.
An observant person could have noticed also a third party in that
presence, though he was some distance from Lalla's side, lying upon
the ground, so near the jet of a fountain, that the spray dampened
his face. It was the idiot. To the monarch, or his slave, he appeared
unconscious of aught save the play of water; but one nearer to him
would have seen that no movement of either escaped the now watchful
eye of the boy. Was it possible that he possessed a degree of reason,
after all, and more than half assumed the strange guise that seemed to
enshroud his wits.
Now he tossed the pure white pebble stones into the playing waters,
and saw them carried up by the force of the jets, and now half rising
to his elbow, startled the gold and silver fish in the basin by a tiny
shower of gravel, but still with a strange tenacity, ever watching
both the Sultan and his slave, though not appearing to do so.
A change had come over that proud, eastern prince. He had been
awakened to fresh impulses, and a new and joyful sense of
realization; the sentiments that actuated him were novel, indeed, to
his breast. From childhood he had been taught by every association to
look upon the gentler sex as toys, merely, of his own; but here was
one, yes, and the first one, too, who had caused him to realize that
she had a soul, a heart, a brilliant, natural intelligence of mind,
that surprised and delighted him. Besides this, the fact of her sad
physical misfortune had, no doubt, increased his tender and respectful
solicitude, and thus altogether he was most peculiarly situated, as it
regarded his dumb slave.
The stern warrior, the relentless foe, the severe judge, and the
pampered monarch, all were merged in the man, when by her side—and
Sultan Mahomet, for the first time in his life, felt that he loved!
As we have shown, it was not the headstrong promptings of passion
that actuated him—far from it; for had the monarch been heedless of
her love and respect in return, how easily might he have commanded
any submission, on her part, that he could wish. The truth was, he
feared to risk the love he now felt that he coveted so strongly, by
any overt act, and thus day by day her life stole quietly on, and lie
was still ever tender and respectful, ever thoughtful for her comfort
or pleasure, and ever assiduous to make her feel contented and happy
with her lot.
It would have been most unnatural had not Lalla experienced, in
return for all this kindness, the warmest sentiments of gratitude,
and this she showed in the expression of her dark, dreamy eyes, at
all times; and to speak truly, the Sultan felt himself amply repaid
by her gentle gratitude and tender smiles.
In the mean time, as days and weeks passed on, silently registering
the course of life, the chill of homesickness, which had been so keen
and saddening at first, wore gradually away from the radiant face of
the slave, though she thought no less earnestly and dearly of her
friends and her home, far away in the Circassian hills; yet absence
and time had robbed her grief of its keenness, while the easy and
luxuriant mode of living that she enjoyed had again restored the
roundness of her beautiful form, had once more imparted the rose to
her check, and the elasticity of her childhood's day to her movements.
In short, she who was so lovely when she entered the harem, had now
grown so much more so, that the companions who surrounded her, with
sentiments almost akin to awe, declared her too beautiful to live, and
sagely hinting that ere long she would hear the songs of those spirits
who chant around Allah's throne.
All this had wrought a corresponding change in the heart of the
Sultan; indeed his affection and, interest for Lalla had even more
than kept pace with this improvement in her appearance; and now it
was for the first time since she came there, that those scarcely less
beautiful Georgians, the petted favorites, heretofore, of the monarch,
now evinced feelings of envy that it was impossible to disguise. They
saw but too plainly that the Sultan cared only for the dumb slave, had
smiles for no one else, and that he was ever by her side when within
the precincts of the harem.
Nor is it to be wondered at that they should feel thus. In a
country where personal beauty constitutes the marketable value of a
woman, it was but natural, that they should be led to prize this
endowment, and perhaps also in the end to dislike all who should
successfully contest the palm with them in this respect. Still, so
sweet was Lalla's disposition, so yielding and considerate, that they
could not openly express the feelings that brooded in their breasts;
nor had one unkind word yet been expressed towards her, since the
first hour that she had entered the Sultan's household.
Leaving the dumb slave thus bound by silken cords, thus chained in
a gilded cage, we will once more turn to the fortunes of the lone and
weary traveller, whom we left in the Armenian quarter of the capital.
He was evidently a wanderer, and, save the liberal means he had
received from the hands of the grateful Turk whom he had so
providentially rescued near the forest borders of Belgrade, he was
poor indeed. Yet with strict economy this purse had served him well,
and for a long while; whatever his errand in this capital might be,
he seemed to keep it sacredly to himself, and to wander day after
day, front morning until night, here, there, and everywhere, now in
the slave market, now in the opium bazaar, now among the silk
merchants, now among the splendid and picturesque dwellings along the
banks of the Bosphorus, and now in this quarter, now in that,
seemingly in search of some one he hoped to find; but as night
returned, he, too, came to his temporary home, tired, dejected and
But day after day and week after week had at last entirely emptied
his purse of its golden contents, and he stood now very near the spot
where we first introduced him to the reader. The purse was in his
hand, and he was consulting with himself now as to what course he
should pursue for the future, when his eyes rested once more upon the
jewelled receptacle he held in his hand. He had often marked its
richness, and the thought came across him that he might realize a
small sum by selling it at some of the fancy bazaars, and he had even
made up his mind to adopt this plan, when he suddenly remembered, for
the first time, that the Turk had told him to present it at the gates
of the seraglio gardens when he needed further aid.
"Fool that I have been!" ejaculated the wanderer, vehemently,
"perhaps I might not only obtain the necessary pecuniary aid from
him, but also that information which I so sadly but earnestly seek.
Why should I, until this late hour, have forgotten his proffered aid?
I will away to him at once, tell him my sad history, and beseech him
to lend me the assistance I require." Thus saying, he turned his eyes
towards the little point of land that jets out towards Asia from the
Turkish city, known as Seraglio Point, a fairy-like cluster of gardens
and palaces marking the spot.
His quick, nervous step soon brought him to the gilded portal that
formed the entrance to the splendid gardens beyond, and through the
sentinel who guarded the spot he summoned an officer of the
household, to whom he showed the purse, telling him that he had
received it from the owner as a token of friendship, and that he had
bidden him, when necessity should dictate, to show it at the seraglio
gates, and he would be admitted to his presence.
"God is great!" said the officer, as he looked upon the purse with
a profound reverence, astonishing the humble wanderer by the respect
he showed to the jewelled bag.
"And what place is this?" he asked of the officer, as hie looked
curiously about him.
"By the beard of the Prophet, young man, do you not know?" asked
"I do not."
"Not know whose purse you hold, and in whose grounds you stand!"
reiterated the soldier.
"Allah akbar! it is the palace of the defender of the faith, Sultan
"The Sultan!" exclaimed the lone wanderer, struck dumb with
"The Brother of the Sun," repeated the official, with a profound
salaam as he repeated the name, while at the same time he noted the
astonishment of the stranger.
"The Sultan," repeated the new comer, musing to himself, "rides he
"At times, yes, when it suits him. No harm can come to him—he is
sacred, and need not fear."
"Perhaps not," answered the other, as he recalled the scene on the
borders of the forest.
At the singular piece of intelligence which the had received, the
stranger seemed to hesitate. He surely would not have come hither had
he known to whom he was about to apply for assistance. Could it be the
Sultan that he so opportunely aided? If so, he surely need not fear to
meet him again; perhaps he might even venture still to tell him
honestly his story, and ask at least for advice in the pursuit of the
object which had brought him to Constantinople. In this half undecided
mood he stood musing for some minutes, and then with a struggle for
resolution, bade the officer lead him to his master.
Let us look in upon the royal presence for a moment. It is a
gorgeous saloon, where the monarch lounges upon satin cushions, with
the rich amber mouthpiece of his pipe between his lips, and the
perfumed tobacco gently wreathing in blue smoke above his head.
Mahomet was at this moment seated on a pedestal of cushions, so rich
and soft that he seemed almost, lost in their luxuriance. Reclining
by his side was a creature so lovely in her maidenly beauty, that
pencil, not pen, should describe her. Ever and anon the monarch cast
glances of such tenderness towards her that an unprejudiced observer
would have noticed at once the warmth of his feelings towards her,
while the gentle slave, for it was Lalla, turned over a pile of rich
English engravings, pausing now and then to hold one of more than
usual interest before his eyes.
It was an interesting scene. The pictures had deeply interested the
slave, and with graceful abandon she had forgotten everything but
them; now smiling over some curious representation, or sighing over
another no less truthful, and her fair, young face expressing the
feelings that actuated her bosom with telltale accuracy all the
while. Her dark hair was interwoven with pearls by the running hands
of the Nubian slaves, and its long plaits reached nearly to her feet,
while across her fair brow there hung a cluster of diamonds which
might have ransomed an emperor—a gift from the Sultan himself.
The Sultan seemed, of late, scarcely contented to have her from his
side for a single hour, and even received his officials and gave
audience, with her in the presence oftentimes, first motioning her,
on such occasions, to cover her face, after the style of the Turkish
women; but even this precaution was rarely taken, for Lalla was not
used to it, and the Sultan pressed nothing upon her that he found to
be in any way disagreeable to her feelings. So when the officer
announced a stranger who had shown a purse which bore the Sultan's
arms as his talisman, he was bidden to admit him at once.
The slave turned her back by chance as the stranger entered, and
hearing not his steps she still bent absorbedly over the roll of
engravings while the new comer with profound respect told the Sultan
that until a moment since he had not known that it was his good
fortune to have served his highness, and that perhaps had he realized
this he would not then be before him.—But the monarch generously
re-assured him by his kindness, and repeated his offer of any service
in his power.
"I feel that I am already a heavy pensioner on your bounty,
excellency," he replied.
"Not so; your bravery and prompt assistance stood us in aid at an
important moment.—Speak then, and if there be aught in which we can
further your wishes or good, it will afford us pleasure."
"It is of a matter, which would hardly interest your excellency
that I would speak."
"We are the best judge of that matter."
"Shall I tell my story then, excellency?"
"Ay, speak on," said the monarch, resuming his pipe, and pouring
forth a lazy cloud of smoke from his mouth.
"Excellency," he commenced, "I am it very humble mountaineer of the
Caucasus, but until these few months past have been as happy as heart
could wish. True, we have often been called upon to confront the
Cossack, but that is a duty and a pleasure, and the tide of battle
once over, we have returned with renewed joy to our cottage homes. Our
hearths are rude and homely, but our wants are few, and our hearts are
warm among our native hills.
"Suddenly, a hawk swooped down upon our mountain side, and bore
away the sweetest and most innocent dove that nestled there, making
desolate many hearts, and causing an aged mother and father to weep
tears of bitter anguish. I loved that being, excellency, so well that
my whole soul was hers, and she too in turn loved me. Broken hearted
and most miserable I have wandered hither to seek her, for hither I
found that she had been brought, and perhaps even now is the unhappy
slave of some heartless one, and is pining for the home she has been
torn from. If you would bless me, excellency, ay, bless yourself by a
noble deed, then aid me to find her in this great capital."
The monarch listened with unfeigned interest, he, had a strong dash
of romance in his disposition, besides which he could feel for the
disconsolate lover now, since his own heart bad been so awakened to
"Your story interests me," said the Sultan, still regarding him
"It is very simple, excellency, but alas! it is also very true,"
was the reply.
"What name do you bear?"
"Aphiz Adegah, excellency!"
"And what was her name of whom you have spoken?"
"Her name was Komel."
At the same moment that he answered thus, Lalla turned by chance
from her engravings, towards them, when her eyes resting upon those
of Aphiz, she rose, staggered a few steps towards him, and uttered a
scream so shrill and piercing that even the imperturbable Turk sprang
to his feet in amazement, while Aphiz cried:
"It is she, it is my lost Komel!"
CHAPTER VII. THE SULTAN'S PRISONER.
The Sultan was as capable of revenge as he was of love or
gratitude, and this, Aphiz was destined to learn to his sorrow; for no
sooner did the monarch comprehend the scene we have just described,
after having heard the story of Aphiz related, than he immediately
summoned the guard, and the young Circassian found himself borne away
to a place of confinement within the seraglio gardens, where he was
left alone to ponder upon his singular situation. It was not an easy
task for him to divest his mind of the thought that all was a dream,
so singular were the threads of the past woven together since the
happy hours when Komel and himself bade good night at her father's
As to the fair and beautiful slave herself, she was conducted back
to the harem, at the same time that Aphiz was borne away to prison,
but a new world had opened to her. Her voice and hearing, lost by the
fearful shock she had realized by that sight of bloodshed on the night
when they stole her away from her parents, had, strangely enough, been
again restored by a shock scarcely less potent in its effect upon her.
That startling scream which she uttered on beholding Aphiz had
loosened the portals of her ears, and the violent effort made in order
to utter that exclamation had again loosened the power of utterance.
In spite of the attending circumstances, she could not but rejoice at
the return of those faculties that she had now been taught the value
The delight of the Sultan at Komel's recovery of her speech and
hearing, was only equalled by his uneasiness at the extraordinary
position of affairs between himself and the man who had so gallantly
saved his life on the Belgrade plains. Loving his slave so tenderly,
what could he do under the circumstances? He now found the music of
her voice as delicious as the almost angelic beauty of her form and
features, and so charmed was he with the improvement that Komel
evinced, and so did he love to listen to her voice, that he could
even bear to hear her plead for Aphiz, and beseech that he might be
brought to her. Much as this would have been against his own feelings
and wishes, still to have her talk to him he listened patiently, or
seemed to do so, even while she besought him thus.
There was another being whose joy at Komel's recovery of her speech
seemed, if possible, more extravagant even than the Sultan's, and far
more remarkable in manifestation. When the idiot boy first heard her
voice, he started, and crouching like an animal, crept away to a spot
whence he could observe her without himself being seen. By degrees he
drew nearer, and finally received her kind tokens without any
evidences of fear. And by degrees, as she spoke to him and tutored her
words to his simple capacity, he seemed to be filled with the very
ecstasy of joy, and ran and leaped like a hound newly loosed from
confinement. Then he would return, and taking her hand, place it upon
his forehead and temples, and then curling his body into a ball, lie
motionless by her side.
"You love this young Circassian, and would leave me and your
present home for him?" asked the Sultan, as Komel entered the
reception saloon in answer to a summons he had sent to her.
"I do love him, excellency," replied the slave, honestly; "we were
children together, and I cannot remember the time when I loved him
not, for we were always as brother and sister."
"There are not many of thy nation, Komel, who would choose an
humble mountaineer to a Sultan," said the monarch, with a bitter
intonation of voice.
"Alas! excellency," she replied, "too many of my untutored
countrywomen, being brought up from their infancy to consider it as
their infallible lot, make a barter of their hearts for gold. Such
know no true promptings of love."
"You are happy and contented here, you want for nothing, you are
the mistress of this broad palace. Bid me send thy countryman away
loaded with gold, and we will live always together."
"Excellency, I am not happy here, and though I participate in all
the splendor you so liberally furnish for me, my heart, alas! is ever
straying back to my humble home."
"This feeling of discontent will soon die away, Komel, and you will
be happy again," said the Sultan, toying with her delicate hands
which had been tipped at the finger ends by the Nubian slaves with
the henna dye.
"Never, excellency, my early home and my heart will always be
together," she replied, with a sigh.
"Nevertheless, Komel," continued the Sultan in a decided tone of
voice, "you are my slave, and I love you. This being the case, think
you I shall be very ready to part with you?"
"Ah! excellency, you are too generous, too kind-hearted, to detain
me here against my wishes. I know this by the gentle and considerate
care I have already received at your hands."
"You mistake, you mistake," repeated the Sultan, earnestly; "that
was because I loved you so well, Komel. I saw in you, not only the
transparent beauty with which Heaven has endowed your race, but a
soul and intelligence that won my heart. Your infirmity, now so
suddenly removed, demanded for you every consideration, but now
aroused by the opposition that circumstances seem to have woven
around me, other feelings are fast becoming rooted in my breast.
Shall such as I am be thwarted in my wish by an humble mountaineer of
As the monarch spoke thus he laid aside the mouth-piece of his
pipe, and leaning upon his elbow amid the yielding cushions, covered
his face with his hand and seemed lost in silent meditation.
The beautiful slave regarded him intently while he remained in this
position. His uniform kindness to her for so long a period had led
her to regard him with no slight attachment, but she knew that Aphiz
was at that very moment under close confinement within the palace
walls for his faithfulness in following and seeking her, and as she
was wholly his before, this but endeared him more earnestly to her.
All the splendor that Sultan Mahomet could offer her, the rank and
wealth, were all counted as naught in comparison with the tender
affection which had grown up with her from childhood.
She awaited in silence the monarch's mood, but resolved to appeal
to his mercy, and beg him to release both Aphiz and herself, that they
might return together once more to their distant home.
But alas! how utterly useless were all her efforts to this end.
They were received by the Sultan in that cold, irrascible spirit that
seems to form so large a share of the Turkish character. Her words
seemed only to arouse and fret him now, and she could see in his
looks of fixed determination and resolve that in the end he would
stop at no means to gratify his own wishes, and that perhaps, Aphiz's
life alone would satisfy his bitter spirit. It was a fearful thought
that he should be sacrificed for her sake, and she trembled as she
looked into the dark depths of his stern, cold eye, which had never
beamed on her thus before.
She crept nearer to his side, and raising his hand within her own,
besought him to look kindly upon her again, to smile on her as he
used to do. It was a gentle, confiding and entreating appeal, and for
a moment the stern features of the monarch did relent, but it was for
an instant only his thoughts troubled him, and he was ill at ease.
In the meantime Aphiz Adegah found himself confined in a close
prison; the entire current of his feelings were changed by the
discovery he had made. Not having been able to exchange one word with
Komel, of course he could not possibly know aught of her real
situation further than appearances indicated by her presence there,
and he could not but tremble at the fear that naturally suggested
itself to his mind as to the relationship which she bore to the
Sultan—In this painful state of doubt, he counted the weary hours in
his lonely cell, and calmly awaited his impending fate, let it be
what it might.
He knew the summary mode in which Turkish justice was administered;
he was not unfamiliar with the dark stories that were told of sunken
bodies about the outer bastion of the palace where its walls were
laved by the Bosphorus. He knew very well that an unfaithful wife or
rival lover was often sacrificed to the pride or revenge of any
titled or rich Turk who happened to possess the power to enable him
to carry out his purpose. Knowing all this he prepared his mind for
whatever might come, and had he been summoned to follow a guard
detailed to sink him in the sea, he would not have been surprised.
The idiot boy, half-witted as he was, seemed at once by some natural
instinct to divine the relationship that existed between Komel and
the prisoner, and suggested to her a plan of communication with him
by means of flowers. She saw the boy gather up a handful of loose
buds and blossoms from her lap several times, and observed him carry
them away. Curiosity led her to see what he did with then, and she
followed him as far as she might do consistently with the rules of
the harem, and from thence observed him scale a tree that overhung a
dark sombre-looking building, and toss the flowers through a small
window, into what she knew at once must be Aphiz's cell.
In childhood, Aphiz and herself had often interpreted to each other
the language of flowers, and now hastening back to the luxuriant
conservatory of plants, she culled such as she desired, and arranging
them with nervous fingers, told in their fragrant folds how tenderly
she still loved him, and that she was still true to their plighted
Entrusting this to the boy she indicated what he was to do with it,
while the poor half-witted being seemed in an ecstacy of delight at
his commission, and soon deposited the precious token inside the
window of Aphiz's prison.
It needed no conjuror to tell Aphiz whom that floral letter came
from. The shower of buds and blossoms that had been thrown to him by
the boy had puzzled him, coming without any apparent design,
regularity, or purpose; but this, as he read its hidden mystery, was
all clear enough to him, he knew the hand that had to gathered and
bound them together. She was true and loved him still.
Komel, in her earnest love, despite the rebuff she had already
received, determined once more to appeal to the Sultan for the
release of his prisoner. But the monarch had grown moody and
thoughtful, as we have seen, when he realized that his slave loved
another; and every word she now uttered in his behalf was bitterness
to his very soul. She only found that he was the more firmly set in
his design as to retraining her in the harem, if not to take the life
of the young mountaineer.
The Sultan brooded over this state of affairs with a settled frown
upon his brow. Had it not been that Aphiz had saved his life by his
brave assistance at a critical moment, he would not have hesitated
one instant as to what he should do, for had it been otherwise he
would have ordered him to be destroyed as quickly as he would have
ordered the execution of any criminal.—But hardened and calloused as
he was by power, and self-willed as he was from never being thwarted
in his wishes, yet he found it difficult to give the order that
should sacrifice the life of one who had so gallantly saved him from
At last the monarch seemed to have resolved upon some plan, whereby
he hoped to relieve himself from the dilemma that so seriously
annoyed him. He was most expert at disguises; indeed, it was often
his custom to walk the streets of his capital incog, or to ride out
unattended, in a plain citizen's dress, as we have seen, that he
might the better observe for himself those things concerning which he
required accurate information. It was then nothing new for him to don
the dress of an officer of the household guard; and in this costume he
visited Aphiz in his cell, representing himself to be the agent of the
"I come as an agent of the Sultan," he said, as the turnkey
introduced him to the cell.
"The Sultan is very gracious to remember' me; what is his will?"
asked the prisoner.
"He has a proposition to offer you, to which, if you accede, you
are at once free to go from here."
"And what are these terms?" asked Aphiz, with perfect coolness.
"That you instantly leave Constantinople, never again to return to
"Except that he will fill a purse with gold for thee to help thee
on thy homeward way."
"I shall never leave the city alone," replied the prisoner, with
"Is that your answer?"
"As well thus perhaps as any way. I shall never leave this city
"But if you remain it may cost you your life," continued the
"I do not fear death," replied the Circassian, with the utmost
"A painful and degrading death," suggested the agent, earnestly.
"I care not. I have faced death in too many forms to fear him in
"Stubborn man!" continued the visiter, irritated in the extreme at
the cool decision and dauntless bravery of the prisoner, adding, "you
tempt your own fate by refusing this generous offer."
"No fate can be worse than to be separated from her I love. If that
is to be done, then welcome death; for life without her would cease
to be desirable."
"Do not be hasty in your decision."
"I am all calmness," was the reply.
"And shall I bear your refusal to leave the city, to the Sultan?
Weigh the matter well; you can return to your native land with a
purse heavy with gold, but if you remain you die."
"You have then my plain refusal of the terms. Tell the Sultan for
me,"—Aphiz in his acuteness easily penetrated the monarch's
disguise,—"tell him I thank him heartily for the generous means that
he afforded me when I was poor and needy, and whereby I have been
supported in his capital so long. Tell him too that I forgive him for
this causeless imprisonment, and that if it be his will that I should
die, because I love one who has loved me from childhood, I forgive him
"You will not reconsider this answer."
"I am firm, and no casualty can alter my feelings, no threats can
The visiter could not suppress his impatience at these remarks, but
telling Aphiz that if he repeated his answer to the Sultan he feared
that it would seal his fate forever, he left him once more alone.
Aphiz, as we have said, knew very well who had visited him in his
cell, and now that he was gone he composed himself as best he could,
placing Komel's bouquet in his bosom and trying to sleep, for it was
now night. But he felt satisfied in his own mind that his worst
expectations would be realized ere long, for he had marked well the
expression of the Sultan's face, and he fell asleep to dream that he
had bidden Komel and life itself adieu.
And while he, whom she loved so well, lay upon the damp floor of
the cell to sleep, Komel lounged on a couch of downy softness, and was
lulled to sleep by the playing of sweet fountains, and the gentle
notes of the lute played by a slave, close by her couch, that her
dreams might be sweet and her senses beguiled to rest by sweet
harmony. But the lovely girl forgot him not, and her dreams were of
him as her waking thoughts were ever full of him.
What is there, this side of heaven, brighter than the enduring
constancy of woman?
CHAPTER VIII. PUNISHMENT OF THE
The sun was almost set, and the soft twilight was creeping over the
incomparable scenery that renders the coast of Marmora so beautiful;
the gilded spires of the oriental capital were not more brilliant
than the dimpled surface of the sea where it opened and spread away
from the mouth of the Bosphorus. The blue waters had robbed the
evening sky of its blushing tints, and seemed to revel in the
richness of its coloring.—It was at this calm and quiet hour that a
caique, propelled by a dozen oarsmen, shot out from the shore of the
Seraglio Point, and swept round at once with its prow turned towards
the open sea. In the stern at two dark, uncouth looking Turks,
between whom was a young man who seemed to be under restraint, and in
whom the reader would have recognized Aphiz, the Sultan's prisoner.
It was plain that the caique was bound on some errand of more than
ordinary interest, and many eyes from the shore were regarding it
curiously, as did also the various boat crews that met it on the
Still it held on its way steadily, propelled by the long, regular
stroke of the oarsmen over the half mile of blue water that separates
Europe and Asia at this point, sweeping as it went by, lovely
villages, mosques, minarets, and the dark cemeteries that line the
shores, until, a certain point having been gained, the oarsmen at a
signal from those in the stern, rested from their labors, while the
boat still glided on from the impetus it had received. In a moment
more, Aphiz was completely covered with a large, stout canvas bag or
sack, which was secured about him and tied up. At one extremity was
attached a heavy shot, and when these preparations were completed, he
was cast into the sea, sinking as quickly from sight as a stone might
have done. A few bubbles rose to the surface where the sack had gone
down, and all was over. The bows of the caique were instantly turned
towards the city, and the men gave way as carelessly as though nothing
uncommon had transpired.
Aphiz had thus been made to suffer the penalty usually inflicted
upon certain crimes, and especially to the wives of such of the Turks
as suspected them of inconstancy, a punishment that is even to this
day common in Constantinople. The Sultan had reasoned that if Komel
knew Aphiz Adegah to be dead, she would after awhile recover from the
shock, and gradually forgetting him, receive his own regard instead of
that of the young mountaineer, as he would have her do voluntarily;
for he felt, as much as he coveted her favor, that he could never
claim her for a wife unless it was with her own consent and free will.
If he had not love her, he would have felt differently, and would have
commanded that favor which now would lose its charms unless 'twas
wooed and won.
But we shall see how mistaken the monarch was in his selfish
Reasoning upon the grounds that we have named, the Sultan had
ordered Aphiz to be drowned in the Bosphorus, as we have seen, and
the deed was performed by the regular executioners of government. The
Sultan was supreme, and his orders were obeyed without question; this
being the case, Aphiz's fate caused no remark even among the gossips.
The few days that had transpired since Komel had regained her
speech and hearing, had of course taught her more in relation to her
actual situation and the character of those about her than she had
been able to gather by silent observation during her entire previous
confinement in the harem of the palace.
She was aware that the Sultan was impetuous and self-willed, but
she could hardly bring her mind to believe that he would actually put
in practice such a piece of villany as should cost Aphiz his life.
Knowing as much as she did of his imperious and stern habits, she did
not believe him capable of such cold-blooded baseness. But no sooner
had the officers, sent to execute his sentence against the innocent
mountaineer, returned and announced the task as performed, than Komel
was summoned to the presence of the the Sultan.
"I have sent for you, Komel," said the monarch, while he regarded
her intently as he spoke, "to tell you that Aphiz is dead."
"Dead, excellency; do you say dead?"
"You do but jest with me, excellency," she said, trying in her
tremor to smile.
"I rarely jest with any one and surely should not have sent for you
were I in that mood. He has gone to make food for the fishes at the
bottom of the Bosphorus."
"Has his life been taken by your orders, excellency?" she asked,
with a pallid cheek and blanched lips.
"You have said," answered the Sultan.
"Ah! excellency, I am but a weak girl and can ill abide a jest.
Aphiz can have done nothing to receive your displeasure, and surely
you would not take his life without reason."
"I had reason sufficient for me."
"What was it, excellency?"
"The fellow loved you, Komel."
"O, sorrow me, sorrow me, that his love for should have been his
The struggle in the beautiful girl's bosom for a moment was
fearful. It was like the rough and sudden blast that sweeps
tempest—like over a glassy lake and turns its calm waters into
trembling waves and dark shadows. She did not give way under the
fearful news that she hear; a counter current of feeling seemed to
save her, and to bring back the color once more to her lips, and
cheeks, and to add brilliancy to the large, lustrous eyes so peculiar
to her race. All this the Sultan marked well, and indeed was at a loss
rightly to understand these demonstrations.
So quick and marked was the change that it puzzled the monarch,
though he read something still of its rightful character, for he had
known before the bitterness of a revengeful spirit, and bore upon his
breast, at that hour, the deep impression of a dagger's point, where a
Circassian slave, whom he had deprived of her child, had attempted to
stab him to the heart. And now as he looked upon Komel, he thought he
could read some such spirit in the expression of the beautiful slave
before him, and he was right! Dark thoughts seemed to be struggling
even in her gentle breast, when she realized that Aphiz was no more,
and that his murderer was before her.
Nothing in reality could be more gentle than the loving disposition
of the slave. Her natural character was all tenderness and modest
diffidence, but she had now been touched at a point where she was
most sensitive. Aphiz, without the shadow of guilt, save that he was
true in his love to her, had been murdered in cold blood, and the
announcement of the fact by the Sultan had chilled every fountain of
tenderness in her bosom. She looked wistfully at the jewelled dagger
that hung in the monarch's girdle, and fearful thoughts were
thronging her brain. The Sultan little knew on how slender thread his
life hung at that moment, for a very slight blow from his dagger,
swiftly and truly given, would have revenged Aphiz in a moment.
"And what end do you propose to yourself that this deed has been
done?" she asked, after a few moments' pause, during which the Sultan
had regarded her most intently, and, if possible, with increased
interest, at the picture she now presented of startled and spirited
"You told me, Komel, that you loved him, did you not?" he asked.
"Can you see no reason now why he should not live, at least, in
"He had his choice, and was told that he might leave here in peace;
but he chose to stay and die."
"And for his devotion to me you have killed him?" continued Komel,
"Not for his devotion, but his stubbornness," said the Sultan.
"Come, Komel, smile once more. He is dead-time flies quickly on, and
he will soon be forgotten."
"Never!" replied the slave, with startling energy. "You will find
that a Circassian's heart is not so easily moulded in a Turkish
The monarch bit his lip at the sarcasm of the remark, and as it,
was expressed with no lack of bitterness, it could not but cut him
keenly. Still preserving that calm self-possession which a full
consciousness of his power imparted, he smiled instead of frowning
upon her, and said:
"You are heated now; to-morrow, or perhaps the next day, you may
come to me, and I trust that you will then be in a better humor than
Komel bowed coldly at the intimation, while her expression told how
bitterly she felt towards him.
A dark frown came over the Sultan's face at the same moment, and an
accurate reader of physiognomy would have detected the fear expressed
there that his violent purpose, as executed upon Aphiz, had failed
totally of success.
Turning coldly away from him, the slave sought her own apartment in
the gorgeous palace, to mourn in silence and alone over the fearful
and bitter news she had just heard concerning one who was to her all
in all, and who had taken with him her heart to the spirit land. The
world, and all future time, looked to her like a blank, as though
overspread by one heavy cloud, that obliterated entirely and forever
the sight of that sun which had so long warmed her heart with its
genial rays. As we have already said, Komel lacked not for tenderness
of feeling. Her heart was gentle and susceptible; but dashing now the
tears from her eyes, she assumed a forced calmness, and strove to
reason with herself as she said, quietly, "We shall meet again in
heaven!" Humming some wild air of her native land, the slave then
tried to lose herself in some trifling occupation, that she might
partially forget her sorrows.
Her flowers were not forgotten, nor her pet pigeons unattended. She
wandered amid the fragrant divisions of the harem, and threw herself
down by its bubbling jets and fountains as she had done before, but
not thoughtlessly. The spirit of Aphiz seemed to her to be ever by
her side, and she would talk to him as though he was actually
present, in soft and tender whispers, and sing the songs of their
native valley with low and witching cadence; and thus she was
partially happy, for the soul is where it loves, rather than where it
lives. From childhood she had been taught to believe the Swedenborgian
doctrine, of the presence of the spirits of those who have gone before
us to the better land; and she deemed, as we have said, that Aphiz
Adegah was ever by her side, listening to her, and sympathizing with
all she did and said.
It is a happy faith, that the disembodied spirits of those whom we
have loved and respected here are still, though invisible, watching
over us with tender solicitude. Such a realization must be chastening
in its influence, for who would do an unworthy deed, believing his
every act visible to those eyes that he had delighted to please on
earth? And yet, could we but realize it, there is always one eye, the
Infinite and Supreme One, ever upon us, and should we not be equally
sensitive in our doings beneath his ever present being?
It was the character of Komel's belief as to the spirits of the
departed, that rendered her so calm and resigned, though the Sultan,
in his blindness, attributed it to the forgetfulness engendered by
time, and smiled to himself to think how quickly the fickle girl had
forgotten one whose ardent devotion to her cost him his life. "She
scarcely deserved this fidelity on his part," said the monarch, with
a dark frown, as the memory of the gallant service the young
Circassian had done him when he was beset by the Bedouins, flashed
across his mind, rendering even his hardened spirit, for a moment,
uneasy. "The difficulty, after all," he said to him himself, "is not
so much to die for one we love, as to find one worthy of dying for."
Shaking an extra dose of the powdered drug into the bowl of his pipe,
the blue smoke curled away in tiny clouds above his head, while its
narcotic effect soon lulled both mental and physical faculties into a
state of dreamy insensibility.
What ardent spirits are to our countrymen, opium is in the East,
except, perhaps that the powerful drug is more exalting in its
stimulating influences, and less vile in its immediate effects; but
no less severe is it to hurry those who indulge in such dissipation,
with a broken constitution and ruined mental faculties to the grave.
Komel seemed gradually to settle down to a quiet and even half
satisfied consciousness of her situation. True, she could not but
often sigh for her home and parents, but with her more settled
condition fresh spirits had come to her features, and renewed
energies were depicted in every movement of her graceful and lovely
form. Though constantly surrounded by a troop of slaves, chosen
solely for their personal beauty and the charms that made them excel
their sex generally, still she outshone them all, and that, too,
without the simplest effort to do so; and yet for all this, so sweet
was her native disposition, and so winning and gentle her spirit at
all times, that they loved her still as at first, without one thought
of envy or jealousy.
So far as her companions were concerned, therefore, she could
hardly have been more happily situated than she was, and for their
kindness she strove to manifest the kind, affectionate promptings that
actuated her heart. She even joined them in many of their games and
sports, though most of her time was passed alone, save that the idiot
boy almost ever sought her out, and came and slept at her side, or
seemed to do so, only too much delighted when she showed him any
little, careful attention, and watching her when she did not observe
him, with an intensity that seemed strange in one who was not supposed
to be possessed of any actual reasoning powers, or indeed of much
brains at all.
Having no mental occupation, the poor boy. who was, as far as his
physical developments went, a specimen of rare youthful beauty and
grace of form, employed a large portion of his time in such exercises
and feats of agility as a sort of animal instinct might lead him to
attempt, and thus Komel was often startled by suddenly beholding him
dangling by his feet from some lofty cypress, swinging to and fro like
a monkey; or to observe him turning a series of summersets, in a broad
circle, with such incredible swiftness as to cause all distinctness of
his form to be lost, producing a most singular and magical appearance.
Then, perhaps, after forming a circle thus on the green sod he would
suddenly plunge into its midst, coil himself up like a snail, or put
his head between his feet, and thus go to sleep, or lie there as still
as though he had been a stone, for hours at a time.
Thus, days and weeks passed on in the same routine of fairy-like
scenes, and the Sultan's slaves counted not the time that brought to
them but a never varying dull monotony of indolent luxuriance. They
had no intellectual pursuits or tastes, and therefore were but sorry
companions for one whose native intelligence was so prominent a trait
in her character. Thus it was, therefore, having no one with whom she
could truly and honestly sympathize, that Komel preferred to whisper
her thoughts to the birds and flowers, and to fancy that Aphiz's
spirit was near by, smiling upon her the while. What a strange and
dreamy life the Circassian was passing in the Sultan's harem!
Komel, it is true, mourned for her liberty, and what caged bird is
there that does not!
CHAPTER IX. THE LOVER'S STRATAGEM.
It was morning in the East, and all things partook of the dewy
freshness of early days.—The busy din of the city was momentarily
increasing, and as the hours advanced, the broad sunlight gilded all
things far and near. It was at this bright and exhilarating hour that
two persons sat together on the silky grass that caps the summit of
Bulgarlu. They had wandered hither, seemingly, to view the splendid
scenery together, and were regarding it with earnest eyes.
How beautiful looked the Turkish capital below them! From Seraglio
Point, seven miles down the coast of Roumelia, the eye followed a
continued wall, and from the same point twenty miles up the Bosphorus
on either shore, stretched one crowded and unbroken city, with its
star-shaped bay in the midst, floating a thousand maritime crafts,
prominent among which were the Turkish men-of-war flaunting their
blood-red flags in the breeze. Far away over the Sea of Mannora their
eyes rested on a snow-white cloud at the edge of the horizon. It was
Mount Olympus, the fabulous residence of the gods. In this far-off
scene, too, lay Bithynia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the entire
scene of the apostle Paul's travels in Asia Minor. Then their eyes
wandered back once more and rested now on the old Fortress of the
Seven Towers, where fell the emperor Constantine, and where Othman the
second was strangled.
Between the Seven Towers and the Golden Horn, were the seven hills
of ancient Stamboul, the towering arches of the aqueduct of Valens
crossing from one to another, and the swelling domes and gold-tipped
minarets of a hundred imperial mosques crowning their summits. And
there too was Seraglio Point, a spot of enchanting loveliness,
forming a tiny cape as it projects towards the opposite continent and
separates the bay from the Sea of Marmora; its palaces buried in soft
foliage, out of which gleam gilded cupolas and gay balconies and a
myriad of brilliant and glittering domes. And then their eyes ran down
the silvery link between the two seas, where lay fifty valleys and
thirty rivers, while an imperial palace rests on each of the loveliest
spots, the entire length, from the Black Sea to Marmora.
Such was the beautiful and classic scenery that lay outspread
before the two young persons who had seated themselves on the summit
of Bulgarlu, and if its charms had power over the casual observer, how
much more beautiful did it appear to these two who saw it through
each other's eyes. A closer observation would have shown that one of
the couple was a female, for some purpose seeking to disguise her
sex; he by her side was evidently her lover, to meet whom, she had
hazarded this exposure beyond the city walls at so early an hour.
"Ah, dearest Zillah'," said he who sat by the maiden's side, "I
would that we lived beyond the sea from whence, come those ships that
bear the stars and stripes, for I am told that in America, religious
belief is no bar to the union of heart, as it is in the Sultan's
"Nor should it be so here, Capt. Selim," she answered, "did our
noble Sultan understand the best good of his people. May the Prophet
open his eyes."
"Though I love thee far better than all else on the earth, Zillah,
still I cannot abjure my Christian faith, and, like a hypocrite,
pretend to be a true follower of Mahomet. At best, we can be but a
short time here on earth, and if I was unfaithful in my holy creed,
how could I hope at last to meet thee, dearest, in paradise?"
"I do love thee but the more dearly," she replied, "for thy
constancy to the Christian faith, and though my father has reared me
in the Mussulman belief, still I am no bigot, as thou knowest."
Zillah was a child in years—scarcely sixteen summers had developed
their power in her slight but beautiful form, and yet it was rounded
so nearly to perfection, so slightly and gracefully full, as to
captivate the most fastidious eye. Like every child of these Turkish
harems, she was beautiful, with feature of faultless regularity, and
eyes that were almost too large and brilliant.
He who was her companion, and whom she had called Capt. Selim, was
the same young officer whom the reader met in an early chapter at the
slave bazaar, and who bid to the extent of his means for Komel, who
was at last borne away by the Sultan's agent. He was well formed and
handsome, his undress uniform showing him to be attached to the naval
service of the Sultan. He might be four or five years her senior, but
though he appeared thus young, he seemed to have many years of
experience, with an unflinching steadiness of purpose denoted in his
countenance, showing him fitted for stern emergencies calling for
promptness and daring in the hour of danger. The story of their love
was easily told. While young Selim was yet a lieutenant in the
Sultan's navy, a caique containing Zillah and the rich of Bey, her
father, had met with an accident in the Bosphorus while close by a
boat which he commanded, and by which accident Zillah was thrown into
the water, and but for the officer's prompt delivery would doubtless
have been drowned. But with a stout purpose, and being a daring
swimmer, he bore her safely to the shore.
With the suddenness of oriental passion they loved at once, but
their after intercourse was necessarily kept a secret, since they
knew full well that the Bey would at once punish them both if he
should discover them, for how could a Musselman tolerate a Christian,
and to this sect the young officer was known to belong. They had met
often thus, and by the ingenious device adopted in Zillah's dress had
avoided detection. But these stolen meetings, so sweet, were fearfully
dangerous to the young officer, the punishment of his offence, if
discovered, being death.
Finally, on one of these stolen excursions, Zillah was detained so
long as to cause notice and surprise in the harem, and when she
returned she was reprimanded by the Bey, who gave orders, that for
the future she should not be permitted to leave the garden walks of
the palace, and the poor girl pined like a caged wild bird. The
latticed balcony of Zillah's apartment, like many of the Turkish
houses, overhung the Bosphorus, so that a boat might lie beneath it
within a distance to afford easy means of communication, and thus
Selim still was able at times, though with the utmost caution, to
hold converse with her he loved so well.
But Zillah's susceptible and gentle disposition could not sustain
her present treatment. She loved the young officer so earnestly and
truly that it was misery to be deprived of his society as was now the
case, for even their partial intercourse had been suspended since the
Bey had discovered his daughter talking to some one, and he had
forbidden her to ever enter the apartment again that overhung the
Thus confined and crossed in her feelings, Zillah grew sick, and
paler and paler each day, until the old Bey, now thoroughly aroused,
was extremely anxious lest she should be taken to the Prophet's
house. The best sages and doctors to be found were summoned, and
constantly attended the drooping flower, but alas! to no effect.
Their art was not cunning enough to discover the true cause of her
malady, and they could only shake their heads, and strike their
beards ominously to the inquiries of the anxious old Bey, her father.
The cold-hearted Bey never dreamed of the real cause of her
illness. True, he had suspected her of being too unguarded in her
habits, and had laid restrictions upon her liberty, but as to
disappointment in love being the cause of her malady, indeed it did
not seem to his heartless disposition that love could produce such a
result. She was perhaps the only being in the world who had ever
caused him to realize that he had a heart. After thinking long and
much upon the illness of his child, he resolved to seek her
confidence, and turning his steps toward the harem, he found his
drooping and fading flower reclining upon a velvet couch. Seating
himself by her side, he parted the hair from her fair, young brow, and
told his child how dearly he loved her, and if aught weighed upon her
mind he besought her to open her lips and speak to him. Zillah loved
her father, though she was not blind to his many faults.
"Dear father, what shall I say to thee?"
"Speak thy whole heart, my child."
"Nay, but it would only displease thee, my father, for me to do
"Tell me, Zillah, if thou knowest what it is that sickens thee, and
robs thy cheek of its bloom?"
"Father," she answered, with a sigh, "my heart is breaking with
"Ay, I love Selim, he who saved me from drowning in the Bosphorus."
"The Sultan's officer?"
"Yes, father, Capt. Selim."
"Why, child, that young rascal is a notorious dog of a Christian.
Do you know it?"
"I know he believes not in the faith of our fathers," she answered,
The old Turk bit his lips with vexation, but dared not vent the
passion he felt in the delicate ear of his sick child. Indeed he had
only to look into her pale face to turn the whole current of his
anger into pity at the danger he read there.
The old Bey knew the spirit that Zillah had inherited both from
himself and from her mother, and that she was fixed in her purpose.
She frankly told him that she could never be happy unless Selim was
her husband. The father was most sadly annoyed. He referred to the
best physicians in the city to know if a malady such as his daughter
suffered under, could prove fatal, and they assured him that this had
frequently been the case. One, however, to whom he applied, informed
the Bey that he knew of a Jewish leech who was famed for curing all
maladies arising from depression, physical or mental, and if he
desired it, he would send the Jew to his house on the subsequent day,
when he would say if he could do her any good as it regarded her
Much as the Mussulman despised the race, still, in the hope of
benefiting his child by the man's medical skill, he desired the
Armenian physician to send the Jew, as he proposed, on the following
day, and paying the heavy fee that these leeches know so well how to
charge the rich old Turks, the Bey departed once more to his palace.
At the hour appointed, the Armenian physician despatched the Jewish
doctor to the Bey's gates, where he was admitted, and received with
as much respect as the Turk could bring his mind to show towards
unbelievers, and the business being properly premised, the father
told the Jew how his daughter was affected, and asked if he might
hope for her recovery.
"With great care and cunning skill, perhaps so," said the Jew, from
out his overgrown beard.
"If this can be accomplished through thy means, I make thee rich
for life," said the Bey.
"We can but try," said the Jew, "and hope for the best. Lead me to
The Bey conducted the leech to his daughter's apartment, and
bidding her tell freely all her pains and ills, left the Jew to study
her case, while he retired once more to silent converse with himself.
"You are ill," said the Jew, addressing Zillah, while he seated
himself and rested his head upon his staff.
"Yes, I am indeed."
"And yet methinks no physical harm is visible in thy person. The
pain is in the heart?"
"You speak truly," said Zillah, with a sigh—"I am very unhappy."
"And art loved again?"
"Truly, I believe so."
"Then, whencefore art thou unhappy; reciprocal love begets not
"True, good leech; but he whom I love so well is a Christian, and I
can hold no communication with him, much less even hope to be his
"Do you love him so well that you would leave home, father,
everything, for him?" asked the Jew.
"Alas! it would be hard to leave my father but still am I so wholly
his, I would do even so."
"Then may you be happy yet," said he, who spoke to her, as he
tossed back the hood of his gaberdine, and removed the false hair that
he wore, presenting the features of young Selim, whom she loved!
"How is this possible?" she said, between her sobs and smiles of
joy; "my father told me that the Armenian recommended you for your
skill in the healing art."
"He is my friend, the man who taught me my religion, my everything,
and the only confidant I have in all Constantinople. To him I told
the grief of my heart at our separation; by chance your father called
on him for counsel; he knew the Bey, and his mind suggested that I was
the true physician whom you needed, and fabricating the story of my
profession, he sent me hither."
The fair young girl gazed at him she loved, and wept with joy, and
with her hands held tremblingly in his own, Selim told her of a plan
he had formed for their escape from the city to some distant land
where they might live together unmolested and happy in each other's
society. He explained to her that he should tell her father that it
was necessary for him to administer certain medicines to her beneath
the rays of the moon, and that while she was strolling with him thus
the water's edge, he would have a boat ready and at a favorable
moment jumping into this, they would speed away.
The moments flew with fearful speed, and pressing her tenderly to
his heart, the pretended Jew had only time to resume his disguise
when the Bey entered. He saw in the face of his child a color and
spirit that had not been there for months before, and delighted, he
turned to the Jew to know if he had administered any of his cunning
medicines, and being told that a small portion of the necessary
article had been given, was overjoyed at the effect.
Being of a naturally superstitious race, the Turk heard the Jew's
proposition as it regarded the administering of his next dose of
medicine beneath the calm rays of the moon in the open air, with
satisfaction; for had he not already worked a miracle upon his child?
He was told that by administering the medicine once or twice at the
proper moment beneath the midnight rays of the moon, he should
doubtless be able to effect a perfect cure.
Satisfied fully of what he had seen and heard, he dismissed the
pretended Jew with a heavy purse of gold, and bade him choose his own
time, telling him also that his palace gates should ever be open to
CHAPTER X. THE SERENADE.
Beautiful as a poet's fancy can picture, is the seraglio, a fitting
home for the proud Turkish monarch, gemmed with gardens, fantastic
palaces, and every variety of building and tree on its gentle slope,
descending so gracefully towards the sea, spreading before the eye
its towers, domes, and dark spots of cypresses like a sacred division
of the city of Constantinople, as indeed it is to the eye of the true
The Sultan's household were removed at his will from the Valley of
Sweet Waters hither and back again, as fancy might dictate. Thus
Komel had met her lover Aphiz Adegah here before his sentence; and
here she was now, still queen of its royal master's heart, still the
fairest creature that shone in the Sultan's harem. Every luxury and
beauty that ingenuity could devise or wealthy purchase, surrounded
her with oriental profusion. Still left entirely to herself, the same
occupation employed her time, of tending flowers and toying with
beautiful birds. Sometimes the Sultan would come and sit by her side,
but he found that the wound he had given was not one to heal so
quickly as he had supposed, and that the Circassian cherished the
memory of Aphiz as tenderly as ever.
The idiot boy, almost the only person in whom she seemed to take
any real interest, still followed her footsteps hither and thither,
now toying with some pet of the gardens, a parrot or a dog, now
performing most incredible feats of legerdemain, running off upon his
hands, with his feet in a perpendicular position, to a distance, and
coming back again by a series of summersets, until suddenly gathering
his limbs and body together like a ball, he went off rolling like a
helpless mass down some gentle slope, and having reached the bottom,
would lie there as if all life were gone, for the hour together, yet
always so managing as to keep one eye upon Komel nearly all the while.
The Circassian loved the poor half-witted boy, for love begets
love, and the lad had seemed to love her from the first moment they
had met in the Sultan's halls, since when they had been almost
It was on a fair summer's afternoon, that the Sultan, strolling in
the flower gardens of the palace, either by design or accident, came
upon a spot where Komel was half reclining upon one of the soft
lounges that were strewn here and there under tiny latticed pagodas,
to shelter the occupant from the sun. While yet a considerable way
off, the Turk paused to admire his slave as she reclined there in
easy and unaffected gracefulness, apparently lost in a day dream. She
was very beautiful there all by herself, save the half-witted boy, who
seemed to be asleep now, away out on the projecting limb of a cypress
tree that nearly overhung the spot, and where he had coiled himself
up, and managed to sustain his position upon the limb by some
unaccountable means of his own.
The Sultan drew quietly nearer until he was close by her side
before she discovered him, when starting from the reverie that had
bound her so long, she half rose out of respect for the monarch's
presence, but no smile clothed her features; she welcomed him not by
greeting of any kind.
"What dreams my pretty favorite about, with her eyes open all the
while?" asked the Sultan.
"How knew you that I dreamed?"
"I read it in your face. It needs no conjuror to define that,
"Would you know of what I was thinking?"
"It was my question, pretty one."
"Of home—of my poor parents, and of my lost Aphiz," she answered,
"I have told thee to forget those matters, and content thyself here
as mistress of my harem."
"That can never be; my heart to-day is as much as ever among my
"Well, Komel, time must and will change you, at last. We are not
Had the monarch rightly interpreted the expression of her face at
this moment, he would have understood how deeply rooted was her
resolve, at least, so far as he was concerned, and that she bitterly
despised the murderer of Aphiz, and in this spirit only could she
look upon the proud master of the Turkish nation. He mistook Komel's
disposition and nature, in supposing that she would ever forgive or
tolerate him. He did not remember how unlike her people she had
already proved herself. He did not realize that his high station, his
wealth, the pomp and elegance that surrounded his slave, were looked
upon by her only as the flowers that adorn the victim of a sacrifice.
Having never been thwarted in his will and purpose, he had yet to
learn that such a thing could be accomplished by a simple girl.
As the Sultan turned an angle in the path that led towards the
palace, he was met by one of the eunuch guards, who saluted him after
the military style with his carbine, and marched steadily on in
pursuance of his duty. The monarch did not even lift his eyes at the
guard's salute—his thoughts were uneasy, and his brow dark with
It was but a few hours subsequent to the scene which we have just
described, that Komel was again seated in the seraglio gardens on the
gentle slope where it curves towards the sea. She had wandered beneath
the bright stars and silvery moon as far as it was prudent for her to
do, and cleft only the narrow path trod by the silent guard between
her and the wall of the seraglio. The hour was so late that stillness
reigned over the moon-lit capital, and the place was as silent as the
deep shadows of night. The half-witted boy had followed her steps by
swinging himself from tree to tree, until now he was close by the spot
where she sat, though lost to sight among the thick foliage of the
Komel was thinking of the strange vicissitudes of her life, of her
lost lover, of the dear cottage where she was born, and the happy
home from which she had been so ruthlessly torn by violent hands. It
was an hour for quiet thoughtfulness, and her innocent bosom heaved
with almost audible motion as it realized the scene and her own
memories. She sat and looked up at those bright lamps hung in the
blue vault above her, until her eyes ached with the effort, and now
the train of thoughts in which she had indulged, at last started the
pearly drops upon her check, and dimmed her eyes. It was not often
that she gave way to tears, but her thoughts, the scene about her,
and everything, seemed to have combined to touch her tenderest
In this mood, breathing the soft and gentle night breeze, she
gradually lost her consciousness, and fell asleep as quietly as a
babe might have done in its cradle, and presented a picture as pure
She dreamed, too, of home and all its happy associations. Once
more, in fancy, she was by her own cottage door; once more she
breathed her native mountain air, once more sat by the side of Aphiz,
her loved, dearly loved companion. Ah! how her dimpled cheeks were
wreathed in smiles while she slept; how happy and unconscious was the
beautiful slave. And now she seems to hear the song of her native
valley falling upon her ear as Aphiz used to sing it. Hark! is that
delusion, or do those sounds actually fall upon her waking ear? Now
she rouses, and like a startled fawn listens to hear from whence come
those magic notes, and by whom could they be uttered. She stood
electrified with amazement.
And still there fell upon her ear the song of her native hills,
breathed in a soft, low chant, to the accompaniment of a guitar, and
in notes that seemed to thrill her very soul while she listened.
They came evidently from beyond the seraglio wall, and from some
boatman on the river. Then a sort of superstitious awe crept over the
slave as she remembered that it was in these very waters that Aphiz
had been drowned. Had his spirit come back to sing to her the song
they had so often sung together? Thus she thought while she listened,
and still the same sweet familiar notes came daintily over the night
air to her ears. The only spot that commanded a view beyond the wall
was occupied by the sentinel, and Komel could not gratify the almost
irresistible desire to satisfy herself with her own eyes from whence
these well remembered notes came. It was either Aphiz's spirit, or the
voice of one born and bred among her native hills—of this she felt
So marked was her excitement, and so peculiar her behaviour, that
the guard seemed at last aroused to take notice of the affair, and in
his ignorance of the circumstances, presumed that the serenader, who
could be seen in a small boat on the river from the spot where he
stood, was attempting some intrigue with the Sultan's people, and
knowing well the object of his being placed there was to prevent such
things, he took particular note of both the slave and the serenader
for many minutes, until at last, satisfied of the correctness of his
surmise, he resolved to gain for himself some credit with his officer,
by making an example of the venturesome boatman, whoever he might be.
Where the sentinel stood, as we have said, he could command a
perfect view of the spot from whence the song came, and also discern
the serenader himself. He saw him, too, pull the little egg-shell
caique in which he sat still nearer the wall of the seraglio. Komel,
too, had observed the guard, and now perceived that it was evident by
his actions that he saw some tangible form from whence came that dear
song; and as she saw him deliberately raise and aim his carbine
towards that direction, she could not suppress an involuntary scream
as she beheld the Turkish guard preparing to shoot probably some
native of her own dear valley.
There had been another though silent observer of this scene, and as
he heard the cry from Komel's lips, he dropped himself from the tree
under which the sentry stood, right upon his shoulders, bearing him
to the ground, while the contents of the carbine were cast into the
air harmlessly. The half-witted boy had destroyed the aim, and the
alarm given by the report of his carbine enabled the boatman, whoever
he was, to make good his escape at once. The enraged guard turned to
vent his anger upon the cause of his failure to kill the boatman, but
when he beheld the half-witted being gazing up at the stars as
unconcernedly as though nothing had happened, he remembered that the
person of the boy was sacred.
With a suppressed oath the guard resumed his weapon, and paced
along the path that formed his post.
As soon as the excitement attendant upon the scene we have related
had subsided, Komel once more turned in wonder to recall those sweet
notes, so endeared to her by a thousand associations, and to wonder
from whom and whence they came. Was it possible that some dear friend
from home had discovered her prison, her gilded cage, and that those
notes were intended for her ear, or had the singer, by some miraculous
chance, come hither and uttered those notes thoughtlessly? Thus
conjecturing and surmising, Komel scarcely closed her eyes all night,
and when she did so, it was to live over in her dreams the scenes we
have referred to, and to seem to hear once more those thrilling and
tender notes of her far off home. Then she seemed once more to behold
the Turk taking his deadly aim, and the idiot boy dropping from the
tree to frustrate his murderous intention, and throwing the guard by
his weight to the ground; and then the imaginary report of the carbine
would again arouse her, to fall asleep and dream once more.
During the whole of the day that followed she could think of
nothing but that strange serenade; she even thought of the possibility
of her father having traced her hither, and sung that song to
ascertain if she were there, and then she wondered that she had not
thought on time instant to reply to it, and resolved on the subsequent
evening to watch if the song should be repeated, resolving that if
this was the case, to respond to its notes come from whom they might.
And with this purpose, a little before the same hour, she repaired
thither with her light guitar hung by a silken cord by her neck.
But in vain did she listen and watch for the song to be repeated.
All was still on those beautiful waters, and no sound came upon the
ear save the distant burst of delirious mirth from some opium shop
where the frequenters had reached a state of wild and noisy hilarity,
under the influence of the intoxicating drug. The half-witted boy
seemed to comprehend her wishes, and already with a leap that would
have done credit to a greyhound, had thrown himself on the top of the
seraglio wall on the sea side, and sat there, watching first Komel,
and then the water beneath the point.
Despairing at last of again hearing the song, she lightly struck
the strings of her guitar, and thus accompanied, sung the song that
she had heard the previous night. The boy recognized the first note of
the air, and springing to his feet, peered off into the shadows upon
the water, supposing they came from thence; but seeing by a glance
that it was the slave who sung, he dropped from the wall and crept
quietly to her side. Before the song was ended he lay down at her
feet in a state apparently of dormancy, though his eyes, peering from
beneath one of his arms, were fixed upon a cluster of stars that shone
the heavens above him.
The bell from an English man-of-war that lay but an arrow's shot
off, had sounded the middle watch before Komel left the spot where
she had hoped once more to hear those to her enchanting sounds. She
arose and walked away with reluctant steps from the place towards the
palace, leaving the idiot boy by himself. But scarcely had she gone
from sight, before he jumped to his feet, leaped once more to the top
of the wall, looked off with apparent earnestness among the shipping
and along the shore of the sparkling waters, where the moon lay in
long rays of silver light upon it, and then dropping once more to the
ground, came to the spot where Komel had sat, and lying down there,
slept, or seemed to do so.
Here Komel came night after night, but the song was no more
repeated. Either the sentry's shot had effectually frightened away
the serenader, or else he had not come hither with any fixed object
connected with his song. In either case the poor girl felt unhappy
and disappointed in the matter, and her companions saw a cloud of
care upon her fair face. The Sultan, too, marked this, and seemed to
wonder that time did not heal the wounded spirit of his slave. His
kindly endeavors to please and render her content bore no fruit of
success. She avoided him now; the feeling of gratitude that she had
at first entertained towards him, had given way to one of deep but
The monarch could read as much in her face whenever they chanced to
meet, and the feelings of tenderness which he had entertained for her
were also changing, and he felt that he should soon exercise the right
of a master if he could make no impression upon the beautiful
Circassian as a lover.
"You treat me with coldness, Komel," he said to her, reproachfully.
"Our actions are only truthful when they speak the language of the
heart," replied she.
"You forget my forbearance."
"I forget nothing, but remember constantly too much," she replied.
"It may be, Komel, that you do not remember on thing, which it is
necessary to recall to you mind. You are my slave!"
Leaving the Sultan and his household, we will turn once more to
Capt. Selim, and see with what success he treated his fair patient,
the old Bey's daughter, in his assumed character of a Jewish leech.
CHAPTER XI. THE ELOPEMENT.
The palace of the old Bey, Zillah's father, was one of those
gilded, pagoda-like buildings, which, in any other climate or any
other spot in the wide world, would have looked foolish, from its
profusion of latticed external ornaments, and the filagree work that
covered every angle and point, more after the fashion of a child's toy
than the work most appropriate for a dwelling house. But here, on the
banks of the Bosphorus, in sight of Constantinople, and within the
dominion of that oriental people, it was appropriate in every
belonging, and seemed just what a Turkish palace should be.
The building extended so over the water that its owner could drop
at once into his caique and be pulled to almost any part of the city,
and, like all the people who live along the river's banks, he was
much on its surface. Coiled away, a la Turk, with his pipe well
supplied, a pull either to the Black Sea, or that of Marmora, with a
dozen stout oarsmen, was a delightful way of passing an afternoon,
returning as the twilight hour settled over the scene.
It was perhaps a week subsequent to the time when Selim and Zillah
met at the Bey's house, availing himself of the liberty so fully
extended by her father, Selim, in his disguise as a Jew, again
appeared at the palace gate, where he was received with a request and
consideration that showed to him he was expected, and at his request
he was conducted to the Bey's presence, and by him, again to the
apartment where his daughter was reposing.—The pretended Jew followed
his guide with the most profound sobriety, handling sundry vials and
jars he had brought with him, and upon which the Bey looked with not a
little interest and respect, as he strove to decipher the cabalistic
lines on each.
"Have you found any improvement in the malady that affects your
child?" asked the Jew, pouring a part of the contents of one vial
into another, and holding it up against the light, exhibiting a
phosphorescent action in the vial.
"By the beard of the prophet, yes; a marked and potent change has
your wonderful medicines produced. But what use do you make of that
strange compound that looks like liquid fire?"
"'Tis a strange compound," answered the other, seeming to regard
the mixture with profound interest; "very strange. Perhaps you would
hardly believe it, but the contents of that vial cast into the
Bosphorus, would kill every fish below your latticed windows to the
"Allah Akbar!" exclaimed the credulous Turk, holding up both hands.
"And this medicine, so powerful, do you intend for one so delicate as
she?" he asked, pointing to Zillah, who was reclining upon a pile of
"I do; but with that judicious, care that forms the art of our
profession. So peculiar is the means that I shall operate with
to-night, that should it harm her, it would equally affect me. But I
have studied her case well, and you will find when yonder fair moon
now rising from behind the hills of Scutari shall sink again to rest,
your daughter will be well."
"Then will I stop and watch the wonderful operation of thy drugs."
"Nay, they must be applied in the open air and beneath the moon's
rays, with none to observe, save the stars."
"Then may the Prophet protect you. I will leave my child in your
care. Shall I do this, Zillah?"
"Father, yes, with thy blessing first," said the fair girl; for
well she knew, that the medicine which was to cure her, would carry
her away from his side and her childhood home, perhaps forever.
The Bey pressed his lips to her forehead, and with a curious glance
at the strange jars and vials, which the pretended Jew had displayed,
he turned away and left them together.
"Ah, dearest Zillah," said Selim, as soon as he found himself alone
with her he loved, "all is prepared as I promised thee, and at
midnight we will leave this palace forever."
"Alas! dear Selim, my heart is ever with thee, but it is very sad
to turn away from these scenes among which I have grown up from
infancy; but full well I know I can never be thine otherwise."
"In time your father will be reconciled to us both, Zillah, and
then we may return again," said the disguised lover, striving to
re-assure the gentle girl, whose heart almost failed her.
"But what a fearful risk you incur even now," she said; "your
disguise once discovered, Selim, and to-morrow's sun would never
shine upon you; your life would be forfeited."
"Fear not for me, dearest. I am well versed in the part I am to
play. But come, it is already time for us to walk forth in the
moonlight. Clothe thyself thoughtfully, Zillah, for your dress must
be such as will suffice you for many days, since we must fly far away
over the sea, beyond the reach of pursuit."
"I will be thoughtful," answered the gentle girl, retiring a few
moments from his side.
They wandered on among the fairy-like scenes of the garden, where
the trees overhung the Bosphorus, repeating once more the story of
their love, and renewing those oft-repeated promises of eternal
fidelity, until nearly midnight, when Selim suddenly started as he
heard the low, muffled sound of oars. He paused but for a moment,
then hastily seizing upon Zillah's arm, he urged her to follow him
quickly to the water's edge. Throwing a heavy, long military cloak
about her, he completely screened her from all eyes, and placing her
in the stern of the boat that came for him, with a wave of the hand
he bade his men give way, while he steered the caique towards a craft
that lay up the river towards the city, and soon disappeared among the
forest of masts and shipping that lay at anchor off Seraglio Point.
They had made good their escape at least for the present, and were
safe on board the ship commanded by Captain Selim. The very boldness
of his scheme would prevent him from being discovered, and neither
feared that the ship of the Sultan would be searched at any event, to
find the lost daughter of the old Bey.
On the subsequent day the old Bey summoned his royal master to
assist him to find his child. The Armenian doctor, who recommended
the pretended Jew, was called upon to explain matters, but, to the
astonishment of the Turk, he denied in toto any knowledge of what he
referred to, declared before the Sultan that he had neither offered
to send any one to the Bey's house, nor had he done so, nor did he
know a single Jewish leech in the capital.
Confounded at such a flat contradiction, and having not the least
evidence to rebut it, the Turk was obliged to withdraw from the royal
presence discomfited, while the Armenian doctor retired to his own
dwelling, comforting himself, in the first place, if he had uttered a
falsehood it was in a good cause; and next, that he held it no crime
to deceive or to cheat an infidel, and ever one knows how little love
exists between the Turks and Armenians, at Constantinople.
The truth was that the Armenian had long known Selim, had taught
him his religion, and, had instructed him much at various times in
such matters as it behooved him to know, and which had placed him at
an early age far above many others in the service, who had all sorts
of favoritism to advance their interests. He knew of Selim's love for
the old Bey's daughter, and when chance led the father to consult him
about his child, the idea of sending Selim to his house, as he
succeeded in doing, flashed across his mind, and he proposed it to
the father, as we have seen.
Selim's Armenian friend repaired on board his vessel as soon as he
was released from the presence of the Sultan, upon the inquiry to
which we have alluded. It would have gone hard with him had it not
been that his skill in his profession had long since recommended him
to the Sultan, in whose household he frequently appeared. Selim
greeted him kindly, and told him he was indebted to him for his
future happiness in life.
"We have been so successful in this plan," said the Armenian, "that
I have half a mind to try one of a similar, but far bolder character,
if you will assist me."
"With all my heart. What is it you propose?" asked Captain Selim.
"In my visits to the Sultan's harem, I have more than once been
"Is the attempt to be made upon the Sultan's harem?" interrupted
"Be patient and hear my story."
"I will, but this must be a bold business."
"I say, in my visits to the Sultan's household, I have often been
brought in contact with one whom I know to be very unhappy, and who
is detained there against her will. She is queen, I think, not only
of the harem, but also of its master's heart, her beauty and bearing
being of surpassing loveliness. Her history, too, as far as I can
learn, is one of romantic interest, and she pines to return to her
home in Circassia, from whence she was violently torn. At first when
she came here, I was called upon to treat her case, for she had
lately recovered from some severe sickness, and I then saw how
tenderly the Sultan regarded her. Well, at that time she was both
deaf and dumb, but—"
"Hold! do you say she was deaf and dumb?" asked Selim, as if he
recalled some memory of the past.
"Strange," mused the officer; "it must be the slave that I bid for
in the market."
And so indeed it was the same beautiful being who had so earnestly
attracted him, as the reader will remember, when the Sultan's agent,
Mustapha, overbid him in the bazaar.
"You know her then?" asked the Armenian.
"I think so; but go on."
"Well, I am satisfied that she pines to be released, and from
hearing her story, and tending her in a short illness, I have become
deeply interested in her. You know, Selim, that I hate the Turks in
my heart, and if I can by any means rob the Sultan of this girl, and
restore her to her home, I would risk much to do so."
"The very idea looks to me like an impossibility," answered the
"Nothing is impossible where will and energy combine."
"What is your plan?"
"You have resolved to fly from here, you tell me at least, by
"Yes. I have purchased that skimmer of the waters, the Petrel, and
I shall sail at that time with Zillah, for the Russian coast, or
Trebizond on the south of the Black Sea."
"Very good; now why not take this gentle slave of the Sultan's
along with you?"
"But how to get possession of her? that's the question," answered
"You know I have free access to the palace, and could easily inform
her of any plan for her release."
"One half of the trouble is over then at once, if she will second
"Well, I will visit the harem this very day. I have good excuse for
doing so, and will tell Komel—"
"Komel!" interrupted Selim.
"Yes, that it the slave's name; why, what makes you look so
"I do not know," said Selim; "the name sounded familiar to me at
first, but go on."
"Well, I will tell her what is proposed, and get her advice as to
any mode that she may think best to adopt in regard to her escaping."
"But do you think she would prefer to go with me to an uncertain
home, to the luxury she enjoys?"
"Of course you will take her to her home on the Circassian coast.
That must be the understanding, and I will remunerate you for the
extra trouble and expense."
"Never!" said the officer, honestly. "These Turks have paid me well
for my services, and I have already a purse heavy with gold, after
purchasing the Petrel, and if need be, I can make her pay."
"Have it as you will; it matters not to me, so that she reaches her
home, and the Turk is foiled."
"I am a rover myself, and the Circassian coast would suit me quite
as well as any other for a season. From whence does she come?"
"Anapa? that shall be my destination," said Selim, at once.
"Hark! what is that?" asked the physician, turning to the back part
of the cabin.
"Nothing, but a young friend of mine; he's asleep, I think."
"Asleep; why he's moving, and must have overheard us, I am sure."
"But what we have said is no more nor less than downright treason."
"And would cost us both our heads if it should be reported."
"He wont report it if he has heard it; he bears the Sultan no
good-will, I can assure you, for it is only a day or two since that
he was sentenced to death by him for some trivial cause."
"What was it?" asked the Armenian.
"Getting a peep at some of his favorites, I believe, or some such
"Do you remember his name?" asked the Armenian, as the subject of
this conversation came out of one of the state-rooms in the cabin,
and approached them.
"Yes; he is a Circassian, named Aphiz Adegah!"
CHAPTER XII. THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.
Though to the Armenian physician the fact of Aphiz's being there
was nothing remarkable, to the reader we must explain how such a
circumstance could be possible after the scenes we have described;
for it will be remembered that we left him at the moment he was sunk
in the Bosphorus and left by the officers of the Sultan to drown.
The fact was that the Circassian's sentence was more than usually
peremptory and sudden, and he was taken at once from the place of
confinement and borne away in the boat without his person being
searched, or indeed any of the usual precautions in such cases being
adopted to prevent accident or the escape of the prisoner. Aphiz
submitted without resistance to be placed in the sack, preparatory to
being cast into the sea, nor was he ignorant of the fate that was
intended to be inflicted upon him, but some confident hope,
nevertheless, seemed to support him at the time.
The officers of the prison, not a little surprised at his quiet
acquiescence to all their purposes, when all was prepared, cast him,
as we have already described, into the sea, and quietly pulled away
from the spot. But no sooner did Aphiz find himself immersed in the
water than he commenced to cut the bag with his dagger, which he had
concealed in his bosom, and as he sank deeper and deeper towards the
bottom, quickly to release himself from the restraint of the heavy
canvas bag and shot that bore him still down, down, to the fearful
depth of the river's bed.
Aphiz Adegah was born near the sea-shore, and from childhood had
been accustomed to the freest exercise in the water. He was therefore
an expert and well-practised swimmer, and after he had freed himself
from the sack by the vigorous use of his dagger, he gradually rose
again to the surface of the water, but taking good care to start away
from the spot where he had been cast into the sea, that he might not
be observed by those who had been sent there to execute the sentence
of death upon him.
Still starting away and swimming under water, he gradually rose to
the surface far from the spot where he had first sunk, but after a
breath, still fearing detection, he dove again, and deeper and
deeper, sought to follow the current, until he should be beyond the
possibility of discovery. What a volume of thoughts passed through
his mind in the few seconds while he was descending in that fearful
confinement of the sack, and how vigorously he worked with the edge
of his dagger to cut an opening for escape, and when he drew that one
long inspiration as he rose to the surface and instantly plunged
again, what a relief it was to his aching lungs and overtasked
powers! But, as we have said, he was a practised swimmer, knew well
his powers, and confidently dove again into the depth of the waters.
As he sank deeper and deeper in this second dive, he found himself
suddenly losing all power and control over his body, and he felt as
though some invisible arm had seized upon him, and he was being borne
away he knew not whither. No effort of his was of the least avail, and
on, on, he was borne, and round and round he was turned with the
velocity of lightning, until he grew dizzy and faint, and the density
of the waters, acting upon the drums of his ears, became almost
insupportably painful, imparting a sensation as though the head was
between two iron plates, and a screw was being turned which compressed
it tighter and tighter every moment.
Though he was in this situation not more than one minute, yet it
seemed to him to be an hour of torture, so intense was the agony
experienced; and yet it was beyond a doubt his salvation in the end,
for he had by chance struck one of those violent undertows that
prevail in all these fresh water inland seas, which defy all
philosophical calculation, and which bore him with the speed of an
arrow for two hundred rods far away from the spot where he had a
second time sunk below the surface, until, as he once more rose to
the surface, he found himself so far away from the boat that he could
not possibly be recognized.
Close by him he heard the strokes and saw the oars of a large
man-of-war boat passing by the spot where he had risen from his
fearful contest with the water. His first impulse was to dive once
more, but his efforts with the current he had struck below had seemed
to deprive him of the power of all further exertion. The shore was a
quarter of a mile distant, and in his exhausted state, he doubted if
it was possible for him to reach it. He gave a second look at the boat
with longing eyes, his strength was momentarily failing him, he felt
that he must either sink or call to those in the boat for assistance,
and while he was thus debating in his own mind, he observed the person
who had the helm steer the boat towards him, and in a moment after
Aphiz was raised in the arms of the sea men and placed in the bottom
of the caique.
Scarcely had he been placed in this position when there commenced
throughout his whole system such a combination of fearful and
harrowing pains that he almost prayed that he might die, and be
relieved from them. He had not the power left in his limbs to move
one inch, and yet he felt as though he could roll and writhe all over
the boat. The fact was that while exertion was necessary to preserve
him from drowning, his instinct and mental faculties combined to
support him, and enable the sufferer still to make an effort to
preserve his life, but now that no exertion on his part could benefit
himself, he was thrown back upon a realization of the consequent
suffering induced by his exposure.
The quantity of water he had swallowed pained him beyond measure,
while the action of the dense water upon his brain, and the combined
pains he was enduring, rendered him almost deranged. It is said that
drowning is the easiest of deaths, but those who have recovered from
a state nearly approaching actual death by submersion in the water,
describe the sensations of recovery to consciousness to be beyond
description, painful and terrible. Those who have for a moment
fainted from some sudden cause have partially realized this misery in
the anguish caused for an instant by the first breath that accompanies
All this proved too much for the young Circassian, and though
removed from the immediate cause of danger he fainted with
exhaustion. He who commanded the boat was also a young man, and
seemed at once to be uncommonly interested in the stranger whom he
had rescued from the sea. Neither he nor any of his men suspected how
the half drowned man had come there, and adopting such means as his
experience suggested, the officer of the boat soon again restored
Aphiz to a state of painful consciousness. Realizing the kind efforts
that were made for him, the young Circassian smiled through the
trembling features of his face in acknowledgement.
Signing to his men to give way with more speed, the officer soon
moored along side one of the Sultan's sloops-of-war, and in a few
moments after the half drowned man was placed in the best berth the
As to himself, Aphiz had only sufficient consciousness left to
realize that he had been most miraculously save from a watery grave,
but a bare thought of the suffering he had just passed through, was
almost too much for him. And leaving chance to decide his future
fate, he turned painfully in his cot and was soon lost in sleep.
When the young Circassian awoke on the following morning he was
once more quite himself, being thoroughly refreshed by the long hours
he had slept. He thought over the last few days which had been so
eventful to him, and wondered what fate was now in store for him.—Of
course the generous conduct of Captain Selim, the Sultan's officer,
who had rescued him from drowning, and then hospitably entertained
him, was the most spontaneous action of a noble heart towards a
fellow-being in distress, but if he should know by what means Aphiz
had come in the situation which he had found him, would not his
loyalty to the Sultan demand that he should at once render up the
escaped prisoner once more to the executioner's hands?
His true policy therefore seemed to be to keep his own secret, and
this he resolved to do, but he had reasoned without knowing the
character or feelings of him to whom he was so much indebted, as we
Scarcely had he resolved the matter in his mind, as we have
described, when Selim entered the cabin, and perceiving the refreshed
and cheerful appearance of Aphiz, addressed him in a congratulatory
"I rejoice to see you so well."
"Thanks to your prompt assistance and hospitality that I am not now
at the bottom of the Bosphorus."
"You were pretty close upon drowning, and must have been under
water for some time, I should say."
"I had indeed, and was very nearly exhausted," answered Aphiz.
"But how came you in such a pitiable plight, what led you so far
from the shore without a boat?"
"I—that is to say—"
"O, I see, some matter that you wish to keep a secret. Very well;
far be it from me to ask aught of thee, or urge thee to reveal any
matter that might compromise thy feelings."
"Not so," answered Aphiz; "but were I to speak, I might criminate
"O, fear no such matter with me, were you an escaped prisoner from
the law, I—"
"What?" asked Aphiz, as he observed the young officer regarding him
"Why, I should not betray you again into the Sultan's power. I have
no real sympathy with these Turks, and would much rather serve you,
who seem to be a stranger, than them."
"Thanks, a thousand thanks," answered Aphiz, warmly.
"Therefore, confide in me, and if I can serve thee, I will do so at
"I will," said Aphiz, who felt that the officer was honest in what
Then he told him how he had been condemned by the Sultan, for some
private enmity, to die, but he carefully observed the utmost secrecy
as to what the actual motive of his punishment really was. He told
how he had been borne in the execution boat to the usual spot for the
execution of the sentence that had been pronounced upon him. How he
had been confined in the sack and cast into the sea, describing his
first sensations and his struggle with his dagger until he cut himself
free from the terrible confinement of his canvas prison. How he had
struggled beneath the element, and then of the fearful eddy into which
he had been drawn, and finally how at last he rose to the surface near
his own boat.
That was all that Captain Selim knew of the matter, and after
hearing that Aphiz was a Circassian, he supplied him with an undress
uniform to further his disguise, and bade him welcome as his guest.
Therefore when the Armenian doctor and Selim found that their
conversation had been overheard by Aphiz, they neither feared his
betraying him, nor suspected the deep interest that the young
Circassian felt in the theme of their remarks.
"You were speaking of a slave of the Sultan's harem, named Komel,"
he said, approaching them.
"We were; and perhaps have spoken too plainly of a purpose for her
release from bondage," said the Armenian.
"Why too freely?"
"Because in a degree we have placed ourselves in your power, having
"I care not whether it be treason or not," replied Aphiz; "it was
such as answered to the feelings of my own heart in every word.
Betray you! I will die to achieve the object you name."
"This is singular," said Selim, surprised at his earnestness.
"It would not seem so had I dared to tell you my story at first."
"Then you know the girl?" asked the physician and Selim, in a
"Know her? I have been her playmate from childhood. We have loved
and cherished each other until our very souls seemed blended into
"Then how came she separated from you, and now in the Sultan's
harem?" asked the Armenian.
"Ay," continued Selim, "how was it that I saw her offered for sale
in the public bazaar?"
"Have patience with me and I will tell you all, of both her history
and my own."
Aphiz then related to them the story that is already familiar to
the reader, and seeing that those with whom he had to deal were in no
way particularly partial to the Sultan, he told word for word the
whole truth, even from the hour when he had saved him from the
Bedouins, to that when he had been cast into the sea.
All this but the more incited both Selim and the Armenian to strive
for Komel's release, and sitting there together, the trio strove how
best they could manage the affair. The Armenian's possessing the
entree to the palace was a matter of intense importance to the
furtherance of the object, and whatever plan should be adopted it was
agreed that he should seek the harem and communicate it to Komel, thus
obtaining her aid in its execution.
"Doubtless she thinks me dead," said Aphiz; "for the Sultan would
take care to tell her that."
"That's true, and so let her think, and we will manage an agreeable
surprise for her."
"As you will; but let us to this business this very night," said
the impatient Aphiz.
"That we will, and right heartily," said Selim, who hastened to his
young wife to tell her that she was to have a dear, beautiful
companion in their proposed voyage, and that she would be on board
before the morning.
Aphiz was now all impatience. He could scarcely wait for the hours
to pass that should bring about the period allotted for the attempt
to release her whom he so fondly, and until now so hopelessly, loved.
In the meantime the good Armenian physician, with redoubled interest,
now that he had learned Aphiz's story, sought the Sultan's harem,
where he quietly broached to Komel the plan that had been agreed upon
whereby she should be transported once more to her distant home and
the scenes of her childhood.
CHAPTER XIII. THE ESCAPE FROM THE
On one of those soft and glorious nights such as occur so often
beneath the eastern skies, when there was no moon and yet a blaze of
light pouring down from the myriad of bright stars, that one would
not have missed the absence of the Queen of Night; the walks of the
Sultan's gardens, fragrant with flowers and sweet blossoms, were
drinking in of the dewy hour, still and silently, save at the point
where we once before introduced the person of Komel. The spot from
whence she had listened to that tender and dearly loved song of her
native valley, and nearly in the same place she sat now, again
evidently listening and expecting the coming of some person or
On the extended branch of the nearest cypress hung the half-witted
boy by one arm, which he had cast over the limb, and from whence he
was now oscillating like a pendulum, his head hanging down upon his
breast, and the rest of his limbs as moveless seemingly, as though he
had hung there for months. It was one of the queer odd freaks that he
was so often performing, for what purpose no one knew, and there he
hung still, while the slave listened and cast anxious glances at the
stone wall that forms the sea side of the seraglio gardens.
But no sound greeted her ears save the never ceasing babbling of
the fountains, and now and then the soft plaintive cry of some night
bird that, wakeful while most of the species slept, warbled its notes
to the stars. Once she thought she heard the muffled sound of oars,
and started to her feet, but the noise soon died away in the distance,
and she relapsed again into the same attitude of impatient and anxious
anticipation. Out from under the apparently drooping and senseless
eyelids of the idiot, a quick thoughtful glance was turned upon her at
every motion she made, but she knew it not, nor did she turn towards
the boy at all, while he still swung steadily as though he had been
bound by cords to the tree.
Once more she started, but it was a false alarm. The notes she had
heard were those of an instrument, played by some favorite of the
harem, who looked forth upon the night scene, and coupled its charms
with the notes of her lute.—But this too soon died away, and again
Komel breathed quick and anxiously as she sat there at midnight. The
guard on his rounds came past now, and she assumed a quiet and
careless air to avoid notice, while a soldier cast a wondering eye at
the idiot boy, and then strode on, with the barrel of his carbine
resting lazily in the hollow of his arm.
At this moment there swelled forth upon the night air the note of
that well remembered song. It was the preconcerted signal, and
springing to her feet, Komel stole quickly to that part of the
seraglio wall nearest the water. The idiot boy seemed to comprehend
the movement instantly, and to recognize the notes that he had heard
once before, and which had so affected the beautiful Circassian, nor
had she fairly reached the wall before he was close by her side. She
paused for a moment to smile kindly upon him and place her hand upon
his head, then turned to listen again.
The boy appeared to understand that something extraordinary was
going on, and became as nervous as possible. Now he darted off
towards the path where the sentinel had disappeared, and now came
back with a step as fleet as a deer, and as noiseless as a cat's. But
the scene soon changed by the appearance, above the wall, of the head
of Captain Selim, who, peering carefully around for a moment, asked in
a whispered tone:
"Lady, lady, are you there?"
"I am," replied Komel, cautiously, while the idiot crowded close to
"If I throw over this rope ladder, will you mount now to the top of
"Yes, O yes; let me get away from here quickly."
"Step away from the wall then for a moment," said the young
officer, and in an instant after a rope ladder made fast on the outer
side, was cast over to her.
"Are you ready, lady?"
"Then come quickly; don't pause for a moment in the ascent, lest
you be seen."
Komel thinking of nothing but release from her confinement in the
Sultan's household, and seeing in perspective her home and parents,
for the Armenian had promised that she should be taken thither,
sprang lightly up the tiny, but strong ladder of cord, and was soon
on the other side, the boy creeping after as she went. But just as
she had passed over the top and was descending on the other side,
leaving the idiot boy on the top beside of the young officer, who
stood so that his neck and head were above the level of the summit of
the wall, the sentinel again came down the path in sight of the place
and instantly discovered the whole affair, running with all speed to
the spot. The soldier dropped his carbine to seize and detain the
ladder, when a struggle ensued between him and the young officer for
At this critical moment, the soldier seeming to recollect himself,
turned to raise his gun, either to shoot Selim or give the alarm; in
either case it would be equally fatal to the success of their design.
The boy had maintained his position during the brief struggle, but the
moment the guard turned to recover his carbine, the half witted
creature leaped from his high position directly upon his back and neck
and bore him to the ground. The weight of the boy's body was
sufficient to bring the soldier to the ground with stunning effect and
leave him nearly insensible.
Had this not been the case the boy's finger clutched the throat
with the power of a vice and the guard was as insensible as a dead
man. In the mean time, the young officer scarcely knowing what to make
of the opportune and sudden interference in his favor, drew up the
ladder on the other side and prepared to follow Komel, who was
already hurried by the Armenian nearly to the side of the boat that
waited there, and in the stern of which sat another person in charge
of the same. Komel looked back as she was joined by Captain Selim,
"Where is the boy?"
"What boy?" said the Armenian, ignorant as to whom they referred.
"The half-witted pet of the Sultan's."
"I left him in the grounds," said Selim.—"The guard passed over
the ladder, but just as he was about to discharge his carbine, that
boy sprang upon him like a tiger, and I think he must have killed him,
for I saw the soldier lying on the ground insensible."
"That boy has been my best friend, I cannot bear to leave him."
"It would be madness to stop for anything now," replied the young
officer; and so they passed around to the spot where the boat was in
waiting, moored closed to the shore.
But let us look back for a moment at the scene on the other side of
the seraglio wall where we left the guard overcome by the boy. The
poor half witted child sat close beside the body, which was perfectly
inanimate. Now he looked up at the bright stars for an instant, now at
the still features of the guardsman, and then at the spot where the
slave had disappeared over the wall. His movements were nervous and
irregular, and he seemed to be trying to understand something or to
make up his mind upon some thought that had stolen into his brain.
Suddenly he lifted his head, his eyes glowed like fire, and his
chest heaved like a woman's.—He scanned the wall for an instant,
then turning, retreated a few yards towards the centre of the
grounds. With a short start and a wild bound he was upon its top!
another leap carried him to the ground, and with the speed of a horse
he ran to the water's edge, just in time for Komel to stretch out her
hand and draw him on board the boat. He who sat in the stern was
muffled up, and his face could not be seen, but he started to his feet
at what seemed to him to be an intrusion; but a sign from the Armenian
put all to rights, and the boy coiled himself up like a piece of rope
at the feet of the fair girl.
Time was precious to them now, and Selim seizing one oar, the
Armenian pulled with another, while he in the stern steered the
caique quietly beneath the shade of the shore for some distance, when
her course was suddenly altered, and striking boldly across the
harbor, it was soon lost among the shipping at anchor.
A little adroitness, with cool courage, will often put all
calculations at fault, and thus had the plan for Komel's release
proved perfectly successful; thus had the Sultan been robbed of his
favorite slave from out the very walls that encircled his palace
grounds in spite of all his supposed security. Though it was very
plain that the whole affair came very near miscarrying at the time
when the guard appeared, and would perhaps have done so had the
fellow understood his duty and fired a shot at once, thus if not
shooting those engaged in this depredation upon the Sultan's
household, at least giving an alarm that would probably have resulted
in the arrest of all the parties concerned. But thanks to the bravery
and skill of the poor half-witted boy, all had gone safely through,
and now Komel found herself seated with the beautiful Zillah in
Selim's cabin, safe from all harm.
"So," said the Armenian, drawing a long breath after the unusual
exertion he had just experienced, "all is safe thus far. Now we must
expedite matters for you to embark in your own craft at once, and in
the mean time keep every thing close, especially the boy. He seems so
devoted to the girl that it would be too bad to part them, but if he
should be seen by any one he will be remembered, and it may lead to
detection at once."
"That is true," answered Selim; "but we have got all on board
without being observed even by the anchor watch."
"The Sultan will leave no means untried to detect the thief who has
stolen his fairest jewel," said the Armenian, "and his reward will be
so rich as to tempt the cupidity of every one, therefore be cautious
and trust none."
"I will not. At midnight to-morrow we must be on board the Petrel,
and at the most quiet moment slip her cable and drop quietly down the
coast with the night breeze, and if every thing is propitious, we can
get well away in the Black Sea before anything will be suspected of
us, and pursuit instituted."
"I shall feel the utmost anxiety until you are fairly away," said
"We owe much to you," replied Selim.
Thus saying, the Armenian and Selim entered the cabin together,
where Zillah and Komel sat listening to each other's stories, and
fast coming to know each other better and better. Suddenly Komel
turned to Selim, and after acknowledging how much she already owed
him and the Armenian, said—
"There is one thing I meant to have asked you before."
"And what is that?"
"Who was it that sang that song beneath the seraglio walls?"
"The same notes that formed our signal to-night?" asked Selim.
"O, that was a young Circassian, who is on board here," was the
"But judging from the song he sang, he must be from my native
"Was it familiar to you?"
"As my mother's voice," answered Komel, with feeling. "It is a song
that one most dear to me has sung to me many a time, and when a few
nights since I heard it, I would have declared that it was his voice
again; but I knew him to be gone to a better land; the Sultan took
his life, alas! on my own account."
The Armenian looked at Selim, as much as to say, now for the
surprise, while the young officer seemed hesitating as to what he
should do next, when a noise was heard at the entrance of the cabin,
and in a moment after, he who had steered the boat, slipped within
and threw off the outer garment that had muffled him. All eyes were
turned upon him as he stood for a moment, when Komel exclaimed,
trembling as she said so:
"Is this a miracle, or do my eyes deceive me? that is—is—"
"Aphiz Adegah," said the Armenian, while an honest tear wet his
"Komel!" murmured the young mountaineer, as he pressed her
trembling form to his breast.
All there knew their story, and could appreciate their feelings,
while not a word was spoken, to break the spell of so joyous a
meeting, the joy of such unhoped for bliss.
"The Sultan then deceived me," said Komel, suddenly recovering her
"He was himself deceived, and thinks me dead," replied Aphiz; "my
escape was miraculous."
"O, let us away at once from here," said Komel, anxiously; "the
Sultan's agent will surely trace us, and I should die to go back to
his harem again. Cannot we go at once?"
"Nay, have patience, my dear girl," said the Armenian, "our plans
have been carefully laid, and we shall hardly run a single risk of
detection or discovery if they are adhered to."
All this while, the half-witted boy lay coiled up in one corner of
the cabin unseen, but himself noticing every movement that
transpired, until as they all settled more quietly to a realizing
sense of their relative positions, when Komel seeking him brought him
to Aphiz, and told him how much she owed the poor boy for kindness
rendered to her, and even that he had saved her life once, if not a
second time, by his mastering the guard.
While the boy looked upon Komel as she spoke, his fine eye glowed
with warmth and expression, but when Aphiz took his hand, and he
turned towards him, that light was gone, like the fire from a seared
coal, and the optics of the idiot were cold and expressionless.
CHAPTER XIV. THE CHASE.
The reader will remember the fleet and beautiful slaver mentioned
in an early chapter, when lying off the port of Anapa. The same
clipper craft that had conveyed Komel away from her native shores, was
destined, singularly enough, to carry her back again, for this was
the vessel Selim had secretly purchased and prepared for his escape
with his companions from the domain of the Sultan. He was too good a
seaman not to manage affairs shrewdly, and though the coming night
was the one on which he had resolved to sail, yet the schooner
floated as lazily as ever at her moorings. The sails were closely
trailed, and the ropes and sheets coiled away as though they would
not be used for months again.
But could one have looked on board beneath her hatches, and out of
sight of the crowded shipping in the bay, he might have counted a
dozen stalwart youths, in the Greek costume, busily employed in
getting everything ready below for a quick run, and as the shadows
deepened over the Oriental scene, and the sun had fairly sunk to rest
behind the lofty summit of Bulgurlu, one or two of the crew might have
been seen quietly engaged here and there on deck, but their lazy,
indolent movements, rather speaking of a long stay at their present
anchorage than an idea of an early departure, and yet a true seaman
would have observed that they were loosing everything, in place of
It was nearly midnight when Selim and his party, headed by Aphiz,
left his own ship in a small caique, and quietly pulled with muffled
oars, to the side of the schooner, which they boarded without
hailing. She had been moored the day previous without the outermost
of the shipping, and scarcely had the party got fairly on board, when
she slipped her cable, and showing the cap of her fore-topsail to the
gentle night air that set over the plains of Belgrade and down the
Valley of Sweet Waters, gradually floated away, until by hoisting a
few rings of the flying jib, her bows were brought round, and she
slipped off towards the Black Sea unnoticed.
Not so much as the creaking of a block had been permitted to
disturb the stillness, and now, when Capt. Selim felt too impatient
not to make the most of the favorable land breeze, only the light
jigger sail that was set so well aft as to reach far over the
taffrail, was unfurled easily and dropped into its place, swelling
away noiselessly. As impatient as he felt, he wished to skirt those
shores silently, and resolved to take every precaution that would
prevent a suspicion of the real hurry and anxiety that he felt from
The cutter hugged the Bithynian shore until it had passed that
rendezvous for the caravans from Armenia and Persia, the favorite
city of Scutari, and then it gradually approached the sea, its
mainsail, foresail and topsails were spread, and before the first
gray of morning broke over the horizon of the sea, the cutter had
almost lost sight of the continent of Europe, and was swiftly
ploughing the waves of the great inland ocean. Classic waters! laving
the shores of Turkish Europe, Asia Minor, the broad coast of Russia,
and that ancient island of Crimea, and finally washing the mountain
coast of Circassia and Abrasia.
One of those short cross seas to which inland waters are so liable,
was running at the time, and there were evidences, too, of foul
weather, for the wind that sets from the north-east for three-fourths
of the season in these waters, had hauled more westerly, and dark,
ominous looking clouds obstructed the light of the sun as it rose from
the horizon. The wind came in sudden and unequal gusts, now causing
the clipper to careen till her topsail yards almost dipped, and then
permitting her to rise once more to the upright position. Capt. Selim
noted these signs well, for he knew the character of these waters, and
that these signs prognosticated no favorable coming weather. His sails
were first reefed, then close reefed, and finally furled altogether,
save a fore-staysail, and the mainsail reduced to its smallest reef
While the clipper was scudding under this sail, a close lookout was
kept in her wake, for Selim knew very well that at farthest his
absence would only be concealed until the morning gun should fire,
when the fleetest ship in the Sultan's navy would be dispatched to
overtake him. And this was indeed the case, for just at this moment
there came to his side a young Greek, who acted as his first officer,
and pointing away astern in the south-western board, said:
"There is a man-of-war, sir, standing right in our wake hereaway."
"You are right—we are discovered, too, for he steers like a hawk
on the wing about to dive for its prey."
"He is close handed, sir, while we are running nearly free."
"Then he has not yet made out the schooner's bearings; keep her as
Watching the frigate, Selim still held on his course steadily, but
the size of the enemy enabled her to carry twice the amount of
canvass in proportion to her tonnage that he dared to do. Indeed, he
felt the fleet craft under his feet tremble beneath the force with
which she was driven through the water even now. As the morning
advanced, the frigate gained fast upon them, until at the suggestion
of Aphiz, the foresail, close reefed, was put upon the schooner, but
quickly taken in again. It was too evident that the gale was
increasing, as the bows of the schooner were every other minute quite
under water, then she would rise on the next wave to shake the spray
from her prow and side like a living creature, then boldly dash
"That fellow is in earnest," said Selim to Aphiz, "and is
determined to have us, cost what it may. See, there goes his
fore-to-gallant sail clear out of the belt ropes. Heaven send he may
carry away a few more of sails, for he is overhauling us altogether
too fast for my liking."
"There goes a gun," said Aphiz.
"Ay, fire away, my hearties," said Selim, "you lose a little with
every recoil of that gun, and you can't reach us with anything that
carries powder in the Sultan's navy—I know your points."
"That shot struck a mile astern of us," said Aphiz.
"Yes, and at the present rate, it will take him nearly two hours to
overhaul us; but by that time, if the gale goes on increasing in this
style, he must take in his canvass or lose his masts over the side."
Selim was right, the fury of the gale did increase, and he soon saw
the frigate furl sail after sail for her own security, and yet she
seemed under nearly bare poles to gain slowly on the schooner, and
was now ranging within long shot distance, and commenced now and then
to fire from her bow ports. But gunner, ever uncertain on the water,
is doubly so in a gale, and nearly all her shot were thrown away, one
now and then hitting the clipper, and causing a shower of splinters to
fly into the air as though the spray had broken over the spot.
Chance did that for the frigate which all the skill of its gunner
could not have done, and a shot aimed at her running gear took a
slant upon the wave, and entered her side below the water line,
causing a leak that was not discovered until it was too late to
attempt its stoppage, and the schooner was slowly settling into the
In the meantime the gale had reached its height, and the frigate,
too intent on her own business, had long since ceased firing, and had
dashed by the clipper like a race-horse, with everything lashed to the
her decks and battened down. And now, when Selim discovered the extent
of the danger, and realized that ere long the schooner must sink, he
almost wished that the frigate, which had gone out of sight far down
to leeward, might be seen once more.
Already had the schooner leaked so fast as to drive the occupants
from the cabin to the quarter deck, and here, gathered in a small
group, they looked at each other in silence, for death seemed
"O, Selim! must we perish?" whispered his young and lovely Zillah.
"Dearest, I trust we may yet be saved. The gale will ere long
subside, and even now we are drifting towards the very coast that we
should have steered for had all been well with us."
This was so. The clipper, though gradually settling deeper and
deeper into the sea, was yet propelled before the breeze by all the
canvass that it was deemed prudent to place upon her, right towards
the Circassian coast, at a rate perhaps of from four to five knots.
The gale, too, now gradually subsided, and enabled the half-wrecked
people to take more comfortable positions, and Aphiz and Selim to
prepare a raft with the assistance of the crew, for it was but too
apparent that the schooner must go down before long. Hollow groaning
sounds issued from the hatches as she settled lower and lower, and it
really seemed as though the fabric was uttering exclamations of pain
at its untimely fate.
By unbinding and loosing the fore and main yards, a foundation was
made by lashing these spars together, upon which other timbers and
wood work was fastened, and in a few hours a broad and comparatively
comfortable raft was formed. But how to launch it? That was beyond
the power of all those on board united. To wait until the time when
the water should float it from the deck, would be to run the risk of
being engulfed with the schooner, and being drawn into the vortex of
water that would follow her going down, and thus meet a sure and
But this was now their only hope, and the only means offering
itself for their escape, since the stern and quarter boats had been
lost or stove in the course of the late gale, and so making a virtue
of necessity, they all gathered upon the centre of the raft that had
been thus hastily constructed, and awaited their fate. Aphiz and
Selim bound their respective charges to the raft by cords about their
bodies, to prevent the possibility of their being washed from its
Already the water washed over their very feet, and now and then the
schooner gave a fearful lurch, that caused all hands to stand fast
and believe her going down. Gradually the water crept higher and
higher, and the plunging schooner seemed at every fall of her bows to
be going down. Even the gentle Komel and Zillah could understand the
fearful momentary danger that must ensue when the hull should plunge
at last, and they silently held each other's hands.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" cried one of the crew, at the top of his voice.
"What now?" demanded Selim sternly of the man, at his seemingly
"She floats, she floats—the raft's afloat."
"Then in the name of Heaven, shove off as quickly as possible,"
said Selim, as he and Aphiz seize each an oar and strove to force the
raft away from the deck. A way had already been cut through the
At first the raft did not stir, but gradually it slid away, and
finally, to the joy of all, it was free and clear of the schooner's
side, and by the strong efforts of the crew, they increased the space
between them in a very few moments to the distance of several rods. It
was not one moment too soon, for a deep gurgling sound rang on the ear
for a moment, then the stern rose above the surface of the sea as the
bows plunged, and in a moment after she was gone forever.
Even at a distance they had already gained, they felt the power of
the vortex, and were drawn towards its brink with fearful velocity,
as though they had been a mere feather floating upon the sea, but
gradually the raft became once more steady, and as the twilight
settled over the scene the whole party knelt in prayer for protection
upon that wide, unbroken waste of waters.
They had taken the precaution to secure some food, though in a
damaged state, and partaking sparingly of this as the moon lit up the
wild scene, and the sea went down after its turmoil and tempest, they
arranged themselves to sleep, Komel and Zillah close by each other's
side, and the poor idiot boy coiled himself silently at their feet. He
had been uncomplaining and watchful ever since the calamity, but had
kept closer than ever to Komel's side, who, even in those moments of
fearful trial, found time to bestow upon the boy looks and words of
kind assurance,—that was enough—he seemed happy.
All the day and another night were passed thus. The fearful gale
had cleared the sea of navigators, who had not yet ventured out from
their safe anchorage, and still the raft drove on, aided by a little
jury mast and the fore-topsail of the schooner, which had been
hastily unbent and placed on the raft. Hunger had attacked them, for
the provisions they had saved were now all gone, and this, added to
the exposure they suffered, caused many a blanched cheek, and Komel
and Zillah seemed ready to give way under the trial.
It was at the dawn of the third day that their eyes were gladdened
by the distant hills of Abrasia, and soon after they neared the coast
so as to make out its headlands, when a favoring wind, as if on
purpose to speed them on their way, came over the Georgian hills from
the south-east, and blew them towards the north.
Aphiz was now in a region that he knew well the navigation of, and
he declared that with the wind holding thus for a few hours, they
would be off the port of Anapa as safely as a steamboat might carry
This was indeed the case, and before many hours the well known
hills and headlands of Circassia were visible to their longing eyes.
Komel could not suppress the joyous burst of feeling that a sight of
her native hills again infused into her bosom, but forgetting each
pain and trouble, she pointed out first to Zillah, then to Aphiz, and
even to the idiot boy, a beauty here, a well known spot there, and
the hill behind which stood the cottage of her dear parents. O, how
she trembled with impatient joy to reach its door once more.
Under the skilful guidance of Aphiz and Selim, the raft was steered
into the harbor, and was soon surrounded by a score of boats,
offering their ready assistance to relieve their distresses, and a
short time after saw them landed safely, all upon the long,
All the while Selim seemed thoughtful and absent, and looked about
him with strange interest, at everything that met his gaze. He even
forgot to seek the side of Zillah, who, with Komel, was hurrying away
to a conveyance up the mountain side. Nor did he join them until sent
for by Aphiz.
Let another chapter explain the mystery of this singular
CHAPTER XV. HAPPY CONCLUSION.
The skies were yet blushing with departing day, and the evening
shadows were quietly advancing over mountain top and sheltered
valley, the dew was already touching the evening atmosphere with its
fragrant mist, "Leaving on craggy hills and running streams, A
softness like the atmosphere of dreams," when those who had so
providentially been saved from the wreck, wended their way to the
door of Komel's home. Scarcely could the poor girl restrain her
impatience, scarcely wait for a moment to have the glad tidings
broken to those within, before she should throw herself into her
parents' arms. O, the joy that burst like sunshine upon those sad,
half broken hearts, while tears of happiness coursed like mountain
rivulets down their furrowed cheeks. Their dear, dear child was with
them once more. Komel was safe, and they were again happy.
"But who are these, my child?" asked the father of Komel, pointing
to Selim and Zillah.
"To him am I indebted, jointly with Aphiz, for my deliverance from
bondage," she answered, taking Selim's hand and leading him to her
father. "And this," she continued, putting an arm about Zillah, "is a
dear sister whom I have learned to love for her kindness and sweet
disposition. Both come to make our mountain side their future home."
Nor was the poor half-witted boy forgotten, but he received a share
of the kindly welcome, and seemed in his peculiar way to understand
and appreciate it, keeping continually by Komel's side.
An hour around the social board seemed to acquaint them all with
the history of the past twelvemonth, and to reveal more than we might
specify in many pages. The cottage was full of grateful hearts and
happy souls that night; and Aphiz learned that since Krometz had
fallen in that fatal encounter, the deed of the abduction had been
fully proved upon him, and that so earnest were the feelings of the
mountaineers in relation to the justice of Aphiz's conduct in that
matter that he need fear no trouble concerning it. Thus assured, he
too joined the home circle of his parents.
Captain Selim, with his bride, made Komel's house their home, but
the young officer could not close his eyes to sleep. He rose with
fevered brow and paced the lawn before the cottage until morning.
Strange struggles seemed to be going on in his brain like a waking
dream; he was striving to recall something in the dark vista of the
"You seem trouble this morning," said Komel's father, observing his
mood. "Are you not well?"
"No, not exactly well," replied Selim; "indeed a strange dream
seems to come over me while I look about me here—this mountain air,
these surrounding hills, the distant view of the sea, have I ever seen
these things before, or is it some troubled action of the brain that
oppresses me with undefined recollections?"
"Come in and partake of our morning meal; that will refresh you,"
said the mountaineer.
"Thanks; yes, I will join you at once," he replied, but turned away
With the earliest morning, Aphiz was again at the cottage and by
Komel's side. O, how beautiful did she look to him now, once more
attired in her simple dress of a mountaineer's daughter. No tongue
could describe the fondness of his heart, or the dear truthfulness of
her own expressive face when they met thus again. Their hearts were
too full, far too full for words, and they wandered away together to
old familiar scenes and spots in silence, save that their sympathetic
souls were all the while communing with each other. At last they came
to a spot from whence the lovely valley opened just below them, when
suddenly Aphiz pointed to a projecting and dead limb of a tree far
beneath them, and asked Komel if she remembered the scene of the hawk
"Alas! dear Aphiz, but too well. It was indeed an unheeded
"But the dove is once more restored now, dearest, and we must look
only for happy omens."
"I have seen so much of sadness, Aphiz," she answered, "that I
shall only the more dearly prize the quiet peacefulness of our native
"Thus too is it with me. A few months of excitement, toil, danger
and unhappiness abroad, has endeared each spot that we have loved in
our childhood still more strongly to me."
"Then shall good come out of evil, dear Aphiz, inasmuch as we shall
now live content."
"Have you seen Captain Selim this morning, Komel?" he asked.
"Yes, and I fear he is ill, some heavy weight seems to be upon his
"Let us seek him then, for we owe all to his manliness and
As the twilight hour once crept over hill and valley, the evening
meal was spread on the open lawn before the cottage, and when this
was over, all sat there and told of the events that had passed, and
each other's experiences, for the few past months, during which time
Komel had remained a prisoner at the Sultan's palace. Of Selim, they
knew only so much of his history as was connected with themselves,
and he was asked to relate his story.
"Mine has been a life of little interest," he said, "save to myself
alone. Of my birth and parentage I know nothing, and my earliest
recollections carry me back to the period when I was a boy on board a
Trebizond merchantman, at a time when I was just recovering from what
is called the Asia fever, a malady that often attacks those who come
from the north of the Black Sea to the Asia coast to live. This fever
leaves the invalid deranged for weeks, and when he recovers from it,
he is like an infant and obliged from that hour to cultivate his brain
as from earliest childhood, and he can recall nothing of the past.
Thus I lost the years of my life up to the age of eight or nine.
"I served in that ship until I was its first officer, and by good
luck, having been once employed in one of the Sultan's ships as a
pilot during a fierce gale, through which I was enabled, by my good
luck, to carry the ship safely. I was appointed at once a lieutenant
in the service, with good pay, and the means of improvement. The
latter my taste led me to take advantage of, and in a short time I
found myself in the command, where I was able to serve you."
"But you had no means whereby to learn of your birth and early
childhood?" asked Komel's mother.
"None; I have thought much of the subject, but what effort to make
in order to discover the truth as it regards this matter, I know
"Had you nothing about your person that could indicate your
"Nor could the people with whom you sailed account for these
things?" asked Aphiz.
"They said that I was taken off from a wreck on the Asia shore, the
only survivor of a crew."
"How very strange," repeated all.
"You found nothing then upon you to mark the fact?" asked Komel's
mother once more, sadly.
"Nothing—stay—there was an oaken cross upon my neck. I had nearly
forgotten that; I wear it still, and for years I have thought it a
sacred amulet, but it can reveal nothing."
"The cross, the cross?" they cried in one voice, "let us see it."
As he unbuttoned the collar of his coat and drew forth the emblem,
Komel's mother, who had drawn close to his side, uttered a wild cry
of delight as she fell into her husband's arms, saying:
"It is our lost boy!"
Words would but faintly express the scene and feelings that
followed this announcement, and we leave the reader's own
appreciations to fill up the picture to which we have referred.
Yes, Captain Selim, the gallant officer who had saved Aphiz's life,
and liberated Komel from the Sultan's harem, was her own dear
brother, but who had been counted as dead years and years gone by.
Could a happier consummation have been devised? and Zillah, who loved
Selim so tenderly before, now found fresh cause for joy, delight and
tenderness in the new page in her husband's history.
Selim, too, now understood the secret influence that had led him to
bid so high for the lone slave he had met in the bazaar, the reason
why he had, by some undefined intuitive sense, been so drawn towards
her in his feelings, for the dumb and beautiful girl was his unknown
And again when he heard her name mentioned, for the first time, by
the Armenian physician, it will be remembered how the name rung in
his ears, awaking some long forgotten feelings, yet so indistinctly
that he could not express or fairly analyze them. The same sensations
have more than once come over him since that hour while they were
suffering together the hardships of the week, and the fearful scenes
that followed the gale they had encountered after the chase.
Aphiz and Komel loved each other now, as they never could have
done, but for the strange vicissitudes which they had shared together.
They had grown to be necessary to each other's being, and even when
absent from each other for a few hours, in soul they were still
together. And hand in hand, side by side, they still wandered about
the wild mountain scenery of their native hills. They had no thoughts
but of love, no desires that were not in unison, no throbbing of their
breasts that did not echo a kindred token in each other's hearts.
Life, kindred, the whole world were seen by them through the soft
ideal hues of ever present affection.
And when, at last, with full consent from her parents, Aphiz led
Komel a blushing bride to the altar, and Selim and Zillah supported
them on either side, how happy were they all!
Years pass on in the hills of Circassia as in all the rest of the
world beside. Sunshine and shadow glance athwart its crowning peaks,
the waves of the Black Sea lave its shores, its daughters still dream
of a home among the Turks, and the secret cargoes are yet run from
Anapa up the Golden Horn. The slave bazaar of the Ottoman capital
still presents its bevy of fair creatures from the north, and the
Sultan's agents are ever on the alert for the most beautiful to fill
the monarch's harem. The Brother of the Sun chooses his favorites from
out a score of lovely Georgians and Circassians, but he does not
forget her who had so entranced his heart, so enslaved his affections,
and then so mysteriously escaped from his gilded cage.
But as time passes on the scene changes—rosy-cheeked children
cling about Aphiz's knees, and a dear, black-eyed representative of
her mother clasps her tiny arms about his neck. And so, too, are Selim
and Zillah blessed, and their children play and laugh together,
causing an ever constant flow of delight to the parents' hearts.
There ever watches over them one sober, quiet eye—one whom the
children love dearly, for he joins them in all their games and
sports, and astonishes and delights them by his wonderful feats of
agility. It is the half-witted creature, who had followed and loved
Komel so well. As years have passed over him, the sun-light of reason
gradually crept into his brain, and the poor boy saw a new world
before him. His only care, his only thought, his constant delight
seeming to be these lovely children.
The events of the past are often recurred to by Komel and her
husband, around the quiet hearthstone that forms the united home of
Selim, Zillah, and themselves, and the sun sets in the west, shedding
its parting rays over no happier circle than theirs. Nor does Komel
now regret that she was once the Sultan's slave.
As now he lays down his pen, let the author hope that he has won
the kind consideration and remembrance of those who have read his
story of THE CIRCASSIAN SLAVE.
[FROM GLEASON'S PICTORIAL DRAWING ROOM COMPANION.]
A SCRAP OF ROMAN HISTORY. BY AN
In the olden days of Roman
Grandeur, glory, wealth, and pride;
Once there came a might legion
From a vast and far-off region
And this Roman power defied.
Naught could stay their devastations
In the lands through which they came;
All the weeping supplications
Of the terror-stricken nations
Could not quench these Vandals' flame.
Ah! most cruel were the invaders,
Cruel their chastizing rods!
For their hearts were stone-like hardened,
These remorseless and unpardoned
Foes of men and all the gods.
And at last they came with boastings
To the gods' and learning's home;
Came with boasting, loud and merry,
Came, at last, unto the very
Walls of proud, imperial Rome.
Ah! why did they not, in mercy,
Spare the "Mistress of the World!"
Or, why did they not, when power
Sat on Roman wall and tower,
Come, and bid their darts be hurled.
For the Romans' strength was broken.
Gone, like light from darkness, now;
Now, when most that strength was need,
Strength was not;—there
Weakness worse than Venla's vow.
Bearing all the outward semblance
Of a firm and mighty hold,
Rome was inwardly as feeble
As a cemeteried people
Changed into corruption's mould.
Ease, corruption, strife, dissension,
Gaiety, licentious mirth,
Luxury;—O, bane of mortals!
All had sapped the very portals
Of this mightiest queen of earth.
Therefore, when these hordes of robbers
Swarmed around the Roman's way,
Scarcely shadow of resistance
Met them near, or in the distance,
And they found an easy prey.
Vandals, Alans, Allemanni,
Longobardi, Avars, Moors,
Goths, Suevi, Huns, Bulgarians,
Overwhelming, rude barbarians
Conquered Rome with deafening roars.
Desecrated, fired and plundered,
Worse than vessel tempest-tost.
Rome was by her dissipations
Blotted from the list of nations;
Rome was lost!—forever lost!