Hadji Murad by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
I was returning home by the fields. It was midsummer, the hay
harvest was over and they were just beginning to reap the rye. At
that season of the year there is a delightful variety of flowers --
red, white, and pink scented tufty clover; milk-white ox-eye daisies
with their bright yellow centers and pleasant spicy smell; yellow
honey-scented rape blossoms; tall campanulas with white and lilac
bells, tulip-shaped; creeping vetch; yellow, red, and pink scabious;
faintly scented, neatly arranged purple plaintains with blossoms
slightly tinged with pink; cornflowers, the newly opened blossoms
bright blue in the sunshine but growing paler and redder towards
evening or when growing old; and delicate almond-scented dodder
flowers that withered quickly. I gathered myself a large nosegay and
was going home when I noticed in a ditch, in full bloom, a beautiful
thistle plant of the crimson variety, which in our neighborhood they
call "Tartar" and carefully avoid when mowing -- or, if they do happen
to cut it down, throw out from among the grass for fear of pricking
their hands. Thinking to pick this thistle and put it in the center
of my nosegay, I climbed down into the ditch, and after driving away a
velvety bumble-bee that had penetrated deep into one of the flowers
and had there fallen sweetly asleep, I set to work to pluck the
flower. But this proved a very difficult task. Not only did the stalk
prick on every side -- even through the handkerchief I wrapped round
my hand -- but it was so tough that I had to struggle with it for
nearly five minutes, breaking the fibers one by one; and when I had at
last plucked it, the stalk was all frayed and the flower itself no
longer seemed so fresh and beautiful. Moreover, owing to a
coarseness and stiffness, it did not seem in place among the delicate
blossoms of my nosegay. I threw it away feeling sorry to have vainly
destroyed a flower that looked beautiful in its proper place.
"But what energy and tenacity! With what determination it
defended itself, and how dearly it sold its life!" thought I,
remembering the effort it had cost me to pluck the flower. The way
home led across black-earth fields that had just been ploughed up. I
ascended the dusty path. The ploughed field belonged to a landed
proprietor and was so large that on both sides and before me to the
top of the hill nothing was visible but evenly furrowed and moist
earth. The land was well tilled and nowhere was there a blade of
grass or any kind of plant to be seen, it was all black. "Ah, what a
destructive creature is man....How many different plant-lives he
destroys to support his own existence!" thought I, involuntarily
looking around for some living thing in this lifeless black field. In
front of me to the right of the road I saw some kind of little clump,
and drawing nearer I found it was the same kind of thistle as that
which I had vainly plucked and thrown away. This "Tartar" plant had
three branches. One was broken and stuck out like the stump of a
mutilated arm. Each of the other two bore a flower, once red but now
blackened. One stalk was broken, and half of it hung down with a
soiled flower at its tip. The other, though also soiled with black
mud, still stood erect. Evidently a cartwheel had passed over the
plant but it had risen again, and that was why, though erect, it stood
twisted to one side, as if a piece of its body had been torn from it,
its bowels drawn out, an arm torn off, and one of its eyes plucked
out. Yet it stood firm and did not surrender to man who had destroyed
all its brothers around it....
"What vitality!" I thought. "Man has conquered everything and
destroyed millions of plants, yet this one won't submit." And I
remembered a Caucasian episode of years ago, which I had partly seen
myself, partly heard of from eye-witnesses, and in part imagined.
The episode, as it has taken shape in my memory and imagination,
was as follows.
* * *
It happened towards the end of 1851.
On a cold November evening Hadji Murad rode into Makhmet, a
hostile Chechen aoul that lay some fifteen miles from Russian
territory and was filled with the scented smoke of burning Kizyak.
The strained chant of the muezzin had just ceased, and though the
clear mountain air, impregnated with kizyak smoke, above the lowing
of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep that were dispersing
among the saklyas (which were crowded together like the cells of
honeycomb), could be clearly heard the guttural voices of disputing
men, and sounds of women's and children's voices rising from near the
This Hadji Murad was Shamil's naib, famous for his exploits, who
used never to ride out without his banner and some dozens of murids,
who caracoled and showed off before him. Now wrapped in a hood and
burka, from under which protruded a rifle, he rode, a fugitive with
one murid only, trying to attract as little attention as possible and
peering with his quick black eyes into the faces of those he met on
When he entered the aoul, instead of riding up the road leading to
the open square, he turned to the left into a narrow side street, and
on reaching the second saklya, which was cut into the hill side, he
stopped and looked round. There was no one under the penthouse in
front, but on the roof of the saklya itself, behind the freshly
plastered clay chimney, lay a man covered with a sheepskin. Hadji
Murad touched him with the handle of his leather-plaited whip and
clicked his tongue, and an old man, wearing a greasy old beshmet and a
nightcap, rose from under the sheepskin. His moist red eyelids had no
lashes, and he blinked to get them unstuck. Hadji Murad, repeating
the customary "Selaam aleikum!" uncovered his face. "aleikum,
selaam!" said the old man, recognizing him, and smiling with his
toothless mouth. And raising himself on his thin legs he began
thrusting his feet into the wooden-heeled slippers that stood by the
chimney. Then he leisurely slipped his arms into the sleeves of his
crumpled sheepskin, and going to the ladder that leant against the
roof he descended backwards, while he dressed and as he climbed down
he kept shaking his head on its thin, shrivelled sunburnt neck and
mumbling something with his toothless mouth. As soon as he reached
the ground he hospitably seized Hadji Murad's bridle and right
stirrup; but the strong active murid had quickly dismounted and
motioning the old man aside, took his place. Hadji Murad also
dismounted, and walking with a slight limp, entered under the
penthouse. A boy of fifteen, coming quickly out of the door, met him
and wonderingly fixed his sparkling eyes, black as ripe sloes, on the
"run to the mosque and call your father," ordered the old man as
he hurried forward to open the thin, creaking door into the saklya.
As Hadji Murad entered the outer door, a slight, spare,
middle-aged woman in a yellow smock, red beshmet, and wide blue
trousers came through an inner door carrying cushions.
"May thy coming bring happiness!" said she, and bending nearly
double began arranging the cushions along the front wall for the
guest to sit on.
"May thy sons live!" answered Hadji Murad, taking off his burka,
his rifle, and his sword, and handing them to the old man who
carefully hung the rifle and sword on a nail beside the weapons of the
master of the house, which were suspended between two large basins
that glittered against the clean clay-plastered and carefully
Hadji Murad adjusted the pistol at his back, came up to the
cushions, and wrapping his Circassian coat closer round him, sat
down. The old man squatted on his bare heels beside him, closed his
eyes, and lifted his hands palms upwards. Hadji Murad did the same;
then after repeating a prayer they both stroked their faces, passing
their hands downwards till the palms joined at the end of their
"Ne habar?" ("Is there anything new?") asked Hadji Murad,
addressing the old man.
"Habar yok" ("Nothing new"), replied the old man, looking with his
lifeless red eyes not at Hadji Murad's face but at his breast. "I live
at the apiary and have only today come to see my son....He knows."
Hadji Murad, understanding that the old man did not wish to say
what he knew and what Hadji Murad wanted to know, slightly nodded his
head and asked no more questions.
"There is no good news," said the old man. "The only news is that
the hares keep discussing how to drive away the eagles, and the eagles
tear first one and then another of them. The other day the Russian
dogs burnt the hay in the Mitchit aoul....May their faces be torn!" he
added hoarsely and angrily.
Hadji Murad's murid entered the room, his strong legs striding
softly over the earthen floor. Retaining only his dagger and pistol,
he took off his burka, rifle, and sword as Hadji Murad had done, and
hung them up on the same nails as his leader's weapons.
"Who is he?" asked the old man, pointing to the newcomer.
"My murid. Eldar is his name," said Hadji Murad.
"That is well," said the old man, and motioned Eldar to a place on
a piece of felt beside Hadji Murad. Eldar sat down, crossing his legs
and fixing his fine ram-like eyes on the old man who, having now
started talking, was telling how their brave fellows had caught two
Russian soldiers the week before and had killed one and sent the other
to Shamil in Veden.
Hadji Murad heard him absently, looking at the door and listening
to the sounds outside. Under the penthouse steps were heard, the door
creaked, and Sado, the master of the house, came in. He was a man of
about forty, with a small beard, long nose, and eyes as black, though
not as glittering, as those of his fifteen-year-old son who had run to
call him home and who now entered with his father and sat down by the
door. The master of the house took off his wooden slippers at the
door, and pushing his old and much-worn cap to the back of his head
(which had remained unshaved so long that it was beginning to be
overgrown with black hair), at once squatted down in front of Hadji
He too lifted his palms upwards, as the old man had done, repeated
a prayer, and then stroked his face downwards. Only after that did he
begin to speak. He told how an order had come from Shamil to seize
Hadji Murad alive or dead, that Shamil's envoys had left only the day
before, that the people were afraid to disobey Shamil's orders, and
that therefore it was necessary to be careful.
"In my house," said Sado, "no one shall injure my kunak while I
live, but how will it be in the open fields?...We must think it over."
Hadji Murad listened with attention and nodded approvingly. When
Sado had finished he said:
"Very well. Now we must send a man with a letter to the Russians.
My murid will go but he will need a guide."
"I will send brother Bata," said Sado. "Go and call Bata," he
added, turning to his son.
The boy instantly bounded to his nimble feet as if he were on
springs, and swinging his arms, rapidly left the saklya. Some ten
minutes later he returned with a sinewy, short-legged Chechen, burnt
almost black by the sun, wearing a worn and tattered yellow Circassian
coat with frayed sleeves, and crumpled black leggings.
Hadji Murad greeted the newcomer, and again without wasting a
single word, immediately asked:
"Canst thou conduct my murid to the Russians?"
"I can," gaily replied Bata. "I can certainly do it. There is
not another Chechen who would pass as I can. Another might agree to
go and might promise anything, but would do nothing; but I can do it!"
"All right," said Hadji Murad. "Thou shalt receive three for thy
trouble," and he held up three fingers.
Bata nodded to show that he understood, and added that it was not
money he prized, but that he was ready to serve Hadji Murad for the
honor alone. Every one in the mountains knew Hadji Murad, and how he
slew the Russian swine.
"Very well....A rope should be long but a speech short," said
"Well then I'll hold my tongue," said Bata.
"Where the river Argun bends by the cliff," said Hadji Murad,
"there are two stacks in a glade in the forest -- thou knowest?"
"There my four horsemen are waiting for me," said Hadji Murad.
"Aye," answered Bata, nodding.
"Ask for Khan Mahoma. He knows what to do and what to say. Canst
thou lead him to the Russian Commander, Prince Vorontsov?"
"Yes, I'll take him."
"Canst thou take him and bring him back again?"
"then take him there and return to the wood. I shall be there
"I will do it all," said Bata, rising, and putting his hands on
his heart he went out.
Hadji Murad turned to his host.
"A man must also be sent to Chekhi," he began, and took hold of
one of the cartridge pouches of his Circassian coat, but let his hand
drop immediately and became silent on seeing two women enter the
One was Sado's wife -- the thin middle-aged woman who had arranged
the cushions. The other was quite a young girl, wearing red trousers
and a green beshmet. A necklace of silver coins covered the whole
front of her dress, and at the end of the short but thick plait of
hard black hair that hung between her thin shoulder-blades a silver
ruble was suspended. Her eyes, as sloe- black as those of her father
and brother, sparkled brightly in her young face which tried to be
stern. She did not look at the visitors, but evidently felt their
Sado's wife brought in a low round table on which stood tea,
pancakes in butter, cheese, churek (that is, thinly rolled out
bread), and honey. The girl carried a basin, a ewer, and a towel.
Sado and Hadji Murad kept silent as long as the women, with their
coin ornaments tinkling, moved softly about in their red soft-soled
slippers, setting out before the visitors the things they had brought.
Eldar sat motionless as a statue, his ram-like eyes fixed on his
crossed legs, all the time the women were in the saklya. Only after
they had gone and their soft footsteps could no longer be heard behind
the door, did he give a sigh of relief.
Hadji Murad having pulled out a bullet from one of the
cartridge-pouches of his Circassian coat, and having taken out a
rolled-up note that lay beneath it, held it out, saying:
"To be handed to my son."
"Where must the answer be sent?"
"To thee; and thou must forward it to me."
"It shall be done," said Sado, and placed the note in the
cartridge-pocket of his own coat. Then he took up the metal ewer and
moved the basin towards Hadji Murad.
Hadji Murad turned up the sleeves of his beshmet on his white
muscular arms, held out his hands under the clear cold water which
Sado poured from the ewer, and having wiped them on a clean
unbleached towel, turned to the table. Eldar did the same. While
the visitors ate, Sado sat opposite and thanked them several times
for their visit. The boy sat by the door never taking his sparkling
eyes off Hadji Murad's face, and smiled as if in confirmation of his
Though he had eaten nothing for more than twenty-four hours Hadji
Murad ate only a little bread and cheese; then, drawing out a small
knife from under his dagger, he spread some honey on a piece of bread.
"Our honey is good," said the old man, evidently pleased to see
Hadji Murad eating his honey. "This year, above all other years, it
is plentiful and good."
"I thank thee," said Hadji Murad and turned from the table. Eldar
would have liked to go on eating but he followed his leader's example,
and having moved away from the table, handed him the ewer and basin.
Sado knew that he was risking his life by receiving such a guest
in his house, for after his quarrel with Shamil the latter had issued
a proclamation to all the inhabitants of Chechnya forbidding them to
receive Hadji Murad on pain of death. He knew that the inhabitants of
the aoul might at any moment become aware of Hadji Murad's presence in
his house and might demand his surrender. But this not only did not
frighten Sado, it even gave him pleasure with himself because he was
doing his duty.
"Whilst thou are in my house and my head is on my shoulders no one
shall harm thee," he repeated to Hadji Murad.
Hadji Murad looked into his glittering eyes and understanding that
this was true, said with some solemnity --
"Mayst thou receive joy and life!"
Sado silently laid his hand on his heart in token of thanks for
these kind words.
Having closed the shutters of the saklya and laid some sticks in
the fireplace, Sado, in an exceptionally bright and animated mood,
left the room and went into that part of his saklya where his family
all lived. The women had not yet gone to sleep, and were talking
about the dangerous visitors who were spending the night in their
At Vozvizhensk, the advanced fort situated some ten miles from the
aoul in which Hadji Murad was spending the night, three soldiers and a
non-commissioned officer left the fort and went beyond the Shahgirinsk
Gate. The soldiers, dressed as Caucasian soldiers used to be in those
days, wore sheepskin coats and caps, and boots that reached above
their knees, and they carried their cloaks tightly rolled up and
fastened across their shoulders. Shouldering arms, they first went
some five hundred paces along the road and then turned off it and went
some twenty paces to the right -- the dead leaves rustling under their
boots -- till they reached the blackened trunk of a broken plane tree
just visible through the darkness. There they stopped. It was at
this plane tree that an ambush party was usually placed.
The bright stars, that had seemed to be running along the tree
tops while the soldiers were walking through the forest, now stood
still, shining brightly between the bare branches of the trees.
"A good job it's dry," said the non-commissioned officer Panov,
bringing down his long gun and bayonet with a clang from his shoulder
and placing it against the plane tree.
The three soldiers did the same.
"Sure enough I've lost it!" muttered Panov crossly. "Must have
left it behind or I've dropped it on the way."
"What are you looking for?" asked one of the soldiers in a bright,
"The bowl of my pipe. Where the devil has it got to?"
"Have you got the stem?" asked the cheerful voice.
"Here it is."
"Then why not stick it straight into the ground?"
"Not worth bothering!"
"We'll manage that in a minute."
smoking in ambush was forbidden, but this ambush hardly deserved
the name. It was rather an outpost to prevent the mountaineers from
bringing up a cannon unobserved and firing at the fort as they used
to. Panov did not consider it necessary to forego the pleasure of
smoking, and therefore accepted the cheerful soldier's offer. the
latter took a knife from his pocket and made a small round hole in the
ground. Having smoothed it, he adjusted the pipe stem to it, then
filled the hole with tobacco and pressed it down, and the pipe was
ready. A sulphur match flared and for a moment lit up the
broadcheeked face of the soldier who lay on his stomach, the air
whistled in the stem, and Panov smelt the pleasant odor of burning
"Fixed ut up?" said he, rising to his feet.
"Why, of course!"
"What a smart chap you are, Avdeev!...As wise as a judge! Now
Avdeev rolled over on his side to make room for Panov, letting
smoke escape from his mouth.
Panov lay down prone, and after wiping the mouthpiece with his
sleeve, began to inhale.
When they had had their smoke the soldiers began to talk.
"They say the commander has had his fingers in the cashbox again,"
remarked one of them in a lazy voice. "He lost at cards, you see."
"He'll pay it back again," said Panov.
"Of course he will! He's a good officer," assented Avdeev.
"Good! good!" gloomily repeated the man who had started the
conversation. "In my opinion the company ought to speak to him. 'If
you've taken the money, tell us how much and when you'll repay it.'"
"That will be as the company decides," said Panov, tearing himself
away from the pipe.
"Of course. 'The community is a strong man,'" assented Avdeev,
quoting a proverb.
"There will be oats to buy and boots to get towards spring. the
money will be wanted, and what shall we do if he's pocketed it?"
insisted the dissatisfied one.
"I tell you it will be as the company wishes," repeated Panov.
"It's not the first time; he takes it and gives it back."
In the Caucasus in those days each company chose men to manage its
own commissariat. they received 6 rubles 50 kopeks a month per man
from the treasury, and catered for the company. They planted
cabbages, made hay, had their own carts, and prided themselves on
their well-fed horses. The company's money was kept in a chest of
which the commander had the key, and it often happened that he
borrowed from the chest. This had just happened again, and the
soldiers were talking about it. The morose soldier, Nikitin, wished
to demand an account from the commander, while Panov and Avdeev
considered that unnecessary.
After Panov, Nikitin had a smoke, and then spreading his cloak on
the ground sat down on it leaning against the trunk of the plane tree.
The soldiers were silent. Far above their heads the crowns of the
trees rustled in the wind and suddenly, above this incessant low
rustling, rose the howling, whining, weeping and chuckling of jackals.
"Just listen to those accursed creatures -- how they caterwaul!"
"They're laughing at you because your mouth's all on one side,"
remarked the high voice of the third soldier, an Ukrainian.
All was silent again, except for the wind that swayed the
branches, now revealing and now hiding the stars.
"I say, Panov," suddenly asked the cheerful Avdeev, "do you ever
"Dull, why?" replied Panov reluctantly.
"Well, I do....I feel so dull sometimes that I don't know what I
might not be ready to do to myself."
"There now!" was all Panov replied.
"That time when I drank all the money it was from dullness. It
took hold of me...took hold of me till I thought to myself, 'I'll just
get blind drunk!'"
"But sometimes drinking makes it still worse."
"Yes, that's happened to me too. But what is a man to do with
"But what makes you feel so dull?"
"What, me?... Why, it's the longing for home."
"Is yours a wealthy home then?"
"No; we weren't wealthy, but things went properly -- we lived
well." And Avdeev began to relate what he had already told Panov
"You see, I went as a soldier of my own free will, instead of my
brother," he said. "He has children. They were five in family and I
had only just married. Mother began begging me to go. So I thought,
'Well, maybe they will remember what I've done.' So I went to our
proprietor... he was a good master and he said, 'You're a fine
fellow, go!' So I went instead of my brother."
"Well, that was right," said Panov.
"And yet, will you believe me, Panov, it's chiefly because of that
that I feel so dull now? 'Why did you go instead of your brother?' I
say to myself. 'He's living like a king now over there, while you
have to suffer here;' and the more I think of it the worse I feel....
It seems just a piece of ill-luck!"
Avdeev was silent.
"Perhaps we'd better have another smoke," said he after a pause.
"Well then, fix it up!"
But the soldiers were not to have their smoke. Hardly had Avdeev
risen to fix the pipe stem in its place when above the rustling of the
trees they heard footsteps along the road. Panov took his gun and
pushed Nikitin with his foot.
Nikitin rose and picked up his cloak.
The third soldier, Bondarenko, rose also, and said:
"And I have dreamt such a dream, mates...."
"Sh!" said Avdeev, and the soldiers held their breath, listening.
The footsteps of men in soft-soled boots were heard approaching. The
fallen leaves and dry twigs could be heard rustling clearer and
clearer through the darkness. Then came the peculiar guttural tones
of Chechen voices. The soldiers could now not only hear men
approaching, but could see two shadows passing through a clear space
between the trees; one shadow taller than the other. When these
shadows had come in line with the soldiers, Panov, gun in hand,
stepped out on to the road, followed by his comrades.
"Who goes there?" cried he.
"Me, friendly Chechen," said the shorter one. This was Bata.
"Gun, yok!...sword, yok!" said he, pointing to himself. "Prince,
The taller one stood silent beside his comrade. He too was
"He means he's a scout, and wants the Colonel," explained Panov to
"Prince Vorontsov...much want! Big business!" said Bata.
"All right, all right! We'll take you to him," said Panov. "I
say, you'd better take them," said he to Avdeev, "you and Bondarenko;
and when you've given them up to the officer on duty come back again.
Mind," he added, "be careful to make them keep in front of you!"
"and what of this?" said Avdeev, moving his gun and bayonet as
though stabbing someone. "I's just give a dig, and let the steam out
"What'll he be worth when you've stuck him?" remarked Bondarenko.
When the steps of the two soldiers conducting the scouts could no
longer be heard, Panov and Nikitin returned to their post.
"What the devil brings them here at night?" said Nikitin.
"Seems it's necessary," said panov. "But it's getting chilly," he
added, and unrolling his cloak he put it on and sat down by the tree.
About two hours later Avdeev and Bondarenko returned.
"Well, have you handed them over?"
"Yes. They weren't yet asleep at the Colonel's -- they were taken
straight in to him. And do you know, mates, those shaven- headed lads
are fine!" continued Avdeev. "Yes, really. What a talk I had with
"Of course you'd talk," remarked Nikitin disapprovingly.
"Really they're just like Russians. One of them is married.
'Molly,' says I, 'bar?' 'Bar,' he says. Bondarenko, didn't I say
'bar'? 'Many bar?' 'A couple,' says he. A couple! Such a good
talk we had! Such nice fellows!"
"Nice, indeed!" said Nikitin. "If you met him alone he'd soon let
the guts out of you."
"It will be getting light before long." said panov.
"Yes, the stars are beginning to go out," said Avdeev, sitting
down and making himself comfortable.
And the soldiers were silent again.
The windows of the barracks and the soldiers' houses had long been
dark in the fort; but there were still lights in the windows of the
In it lived Prince Simon Mikhailovich Vorontsov, Commander of the
Kurin Regiment, an Imperial Aide-de-Camp and son of the
Commander-in-Chief. Vorontsov's wife, Marya Vasilevna, a famous
Petersburg beauty, was with him and they lived in this little
Caucasian fort more luxuriously than any one had ever lived there
before. To Vorontsov, and even more to his wife, it seemed that they
were not only living a very modest life, but one full of privations,
while to the inhabitants of the place their luxury was surprising and
Just now, at midnight, the host and hostess sat playing cards with
their visitors, at a card table lit by four candles, in the spacious
drawing room with its carpeted floor and rich curtains drawn across
the windows. Vorontsov, who had a long face and wore the insignia and
gold cords of an aide-de-camp, was partnered by a shaggy young man of
gloomy appearance, a graduate of Petersburg University whom Princess
Vorontsov had lately had sent to the Caucasus to be tutor to her
little son (born of her first marriage). Against them played two
officers: one a broad, red- faced man, Poltoratsky, a company
commander who had exchanged out of the Guards; and the other the
regimental adjutant, who sat very straight on his chair with a cold
expression on his handsome face.
Princess Marya Vasilevna, a large-built, large-eyed, black- browed
beauty, sat beside Poltoratsky -- her crinoline touching his lets --
and looked over his cards. In her words, her looks, her smile, her
perfume, and in every movement of her body, there was something that
reduced Poltoratsky to obliviousness of everything except the
consciousness of her nearness, and he made blunder after blunder,
trying his partner's temper more and more.
"No... that's too bad! You've wasted an ace again," said the
regimental adjutant, flushing all over as Poltoratsky threw out an
Poltoratsky turned his kindly, wide-set black eyes towards the
dissatisfied adjutant uncomprehendingly, as though just aroused from
"Do forgive him!" said Marya Vasilevna, smiling. "There, you see!
Didn't I tell you so?" she went on, turning to Poltoratsky.
"But that's not at all what you said," replied Poltoratsky,
"Wasn't it?" she queried, with an answering smile, which excited
and delighted Poltoratsky to such a degree that he blushed crimson and
seeing the cards began to shuffle.
"It isn't your turn to deal," said the adjutant sternly, and with
his white ringed hand he began to deal himself, as though he wished to
get rid of the cards as quickly as possible.
The prince's valet entered the drawing room and announced that the
officer on duty wanted to speak to him.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," said the prince speaking Russian with an
English accent. "Will you take my place, marya?"
"Do you all agree?" asked the princess, rising quickly and lightly
to her full height, rustling her silks, and smiling the radiant smile
of a happy woman.
"I always agree to everything," replied the adjutant, very pleased
that the princess -- who could not play at all -- was now going to
play against him.
Poltoratsky only spread out his hands and smiled.
The rubber was nearly finished when the prince returned to the
drawing room, animated and obviously very pleased.
"Do you know what I propose?"
"That we have some champagne."
"I am always ready for that," said Poltoratsky.
"Why not? We shall be delighted!" said the adjutant.
"Bring some, Vasili!" said the prince.
"What did they want you for?" asked Marya Vasilevna.
"It was the officer on duty and another man."
"Who? What about?" asked Marya Vasilevna quickly.
"I mustn't say," said Vorontsov, shrugging his shoulders.
"You mustn't say!" repeated Marya Vasilevna. "We'll'' see about
When the champagne was brought each of the visitors drank a glass,
and having finished the game and settled the scores they began to take
"Is it your company that's ordered to the forest tomorrow?" the
prince asked Poltoratsky as they said goodbye.
"Then we shall meet tomorrow," said the prince, smiling slightly.
"Very pleased," replied Poltoratsky, not quite understanding what
Vorontsov was saying to him and preoccupied only by the thought that
he would in a minute be pressing Marya Vasilevna's hand.
Marya Vasilevna, according to her wont, not only pressed his hand
firmly but shook it vigorously, and again reminding him of his mistake
in playing diamonds, she gave him what he took to be a delightful,
affectionate, and meaning smile.
Poltoratsky went home in an ecstatic condition only to be
understood by people like himself who, having grown up and been
educated in society, meet a woman belonging to their own circle after
months of isolated military life, and moreover a woman like Princess
When he reached the little house in which he and his comrade lived
he pushed the door, but it was locked. He knocked, with no result.
He felt vexed, and began kicking the door and banging it with his
sword. Then he heard a sound of footsteps and Vovilo -- a domestic
serf of his -- undid the cabin hook which fastened the door.
"What do you mean by locking yourself in, blockhead?"
"But how is it possible, sir...?"
"You're tipsy again! I'll show you 'how it is possible!'" and
Poltoratsky was about to strike Vovilo but changed his mind. "Oh, go
to the devil!... Light a candle."
"In a minute."
Vovilo was really tipsy. He had been drinking at the name day
party of the ordnance sergeant, Ivan Petrovich. On returning home he
began comparing his life with that of the latter. Ivan Petrovich had
a salary, was married, and hoped in a year's time to get his
Vovilo had been taken "up" when a boy -- that is, he had been
taken into his owner's household service -- and now although he was
already over forty he was not married, but lived a campaigning life
with his harum-scarum young master. He was a good master, who seldom
struck him, but what kind of a life was it? "He promised to free me
when we return from the Caucasus, but where am I to with my freedom?
... It's a dog's life!" thought Vovilo, and he felt so sleepy that,
afraid lest someone should come in and steal something, he fastened
the hook of the door and fell asleep.
* * *
Poltoratsky entered the bedroom which he shared with his comrade
"Well, have you lost?" asked Tikhonov, waking up.
"No, as it happens, I haven't. I've won seventeen rubles, and we
drank a bottle of Cliquot!"
"And you've looked at Marya Vasilevna?"
"Yes, and I have looked at Marya Vasilevna," repeated Poltoratsky.
"It will soon be time to get up," said Tikhonov. "We are to start
"Vovilo!" shouted Poltoratsky, "see that you wake me up properly
tomorrow at five!"
"How can I wake you if you fight?"
"I tell you you're to wake me! Do you hear?"
"All right." Vovilo went out, taking Poltoratsky's boots and
clothes with him. Poltoratsky got into bed and smoked a cigarette
and put out his candle smiling the while. In the dark he saw before
him the smiling face of Marya Vasilevna.
* * *
The Vorontsovs did not go to bed at once. When the visitors had
left, Marya Vasilevna went up to her husband and standing in front of
him, said severely --
"Eh bien! vous allez me dire ce que c'est."
"Mais, ma chere..."
"Pas de 'ma chere'! C'etait un emissaire, n'est-ce pas?"
"Quand meme, je ne puis pas vous le dire."
"Vous ne pouvez pas? Alors, c'est moi qui vais vous le dire!"
"It was Hadji Murad, wasn't it?" said Marya Vasilevna, who had for
some days past heard of the negotiations and thought that Hadji Murad
himself had been to see her husband. Vorontsov could not altogether
deny this, but disappointed her by saying that it was not Hadji Murad
himself but only an emissary to announce that Hadji Murad would come
to meet him next day at the spot where a wood- cutting expedition had
In the monotonous life of the fortress the young Vorontsovs --
both husband and wife -- were glad of this occurrence, and it was
already past two o'clock when, after speaking of the pleasure the
news would give his father, they went to bed.
After the three sleepless nights he had passed flying from the
murids Shamil had sent to capture him, Hadji Murad fell asleep as
soon as Sado, having bid him goodnight, had gone out of the saklya.
He slept fully dressed with his head on his hand, his elbow sinking
deep into the red down-cushions his host had arranged for him.
At a little distance, by the wall, slept Eldar. He lay on his
back, his strong young limbs stretched out so that his high chest,
with the black cartridge-pouches sewn into the front of his white
Circassian coat, was higher than his freshly shaven, blue-gleaming
head, which had rolled off the pillow and was thrown back. His upper
lip, on which a little soft down was just appearing, pouted like a
child's, now contracting and now expanding, as though he were sipping
something. Like Hadji Murad he slept with pistol and dagger in his
belt. the sticks in the grate burnt low, and a night light in a niche
in the wall gleamed faintly.
In the middle of the night the floor of the guest-chamber creaked,
and Hadji Murad immediately rose, putting his hand to his pistol.
Sado entered, treading softly on the earthen floor.
"What is it?" asked Hadji Murad, as if he had not been asleep at
"We must think," replied Sado, squatting down in front of him. "A
woman from her roof saw you arrive and told her husband, and now the
whole aoul knows. A neighbor has just been to tell my wife that the
Elders have assembled in the mosque and want to detain you."
"I must be off!" said Hadji Murad.
"The horses are saddled," said Sado, quickly leaving the saklya.
"Eldar!" whispered Hadji Murad. And Eldar, hearing his name, and
above all his master's voice, leapt to his feet, setting his cap
straight as he did so.
Hadji Murad put on his weapons and then his burka. Eldar did the
same, and they both went silently out of the saklya into the
penthouse. The black-eyed boy brought their horses. Hearing the
clatter of hoofs on the hard-beaten road, someone stuck his head out
of the door of a neighboring saklya and a man ran up the hill towards
the mosque, clattering with his wooden shoes. There was no moon, but
the stars shone brightly in the black sky so that the outlines of the
saklya roofs could be seen in the darkness, the mosque with its
minarets in the upper part of the village rising above the other
buildings. From the mosque came a hum of voices.
quickly seizing his gun, Hadji Murad placed his foot in the narrow
stirrup, and silently and easily throwing his body across, swung
himself onto the high cushion of the saddle.
"May God reward you!" he said, addressing his host while his right
foot felt instinctively for the stirrup, and with his whip he lightly
touched the lad who held his horse, as a sign that he should let go.
The boy stepped aside, and the horse, as if it knew what it had to
do, started at a brisk pace down the lane towards the principal
street. Eldar rode behind him. Sado in his sheepskin followed,
almost running, swinging his arms and crossing now to one side and now
to the other of the narrow sidestreet. At the place where the streets
met, first one moving shadow and then another appeared in the road.
"Stop...who's that? Stop!" shouted a voice, and several men
blocked the path.
Instead of stopping, Hadji Murad drew his pistol from his belt and
increasing his speed rode straight at those who blocked the way. They
separated, and without looking round he started down the road at a
swift canter. Eldar followed him at a sharp trot. Two shots cracked
behind them and two bullets whistled past without hitting either Hadji
Murad or Eldar. Hadji Murad continued riding at the same pace, but
having gone some three hundred yards he stopped his slightly panting
horse and listened.
In front of him, lower down, gurgled rapidly running water. Behind
him in the aoul cocks crowed, answering one another. Above these
sounds he heard behind him the approaching tramp of horses and the
voices of several men. Hadji Murad touched his horse and rode on at
an even pace. Those behind him galloped and soon overtook him. They
were some twenty mounted men, inhabitants of the aoul, who had decided
to detain Hadji Murad or a least to make a show of detaining him in
order to justify themselves in Shamil's eyes. When they came near
enough to be seen in the darkness, Hadji Murad stopped, let go his
bridle, and with an accustomed movement of his bridle, and with an
accustomed movement of his left hand unbuttoned the cover of his
rifle, which he drew forth with his right. Eldar did the same.
"What do you want?" cried Hadji Murad. "Do you wish to take
me?...Take me, then!" and he raised his rifle. The men form the aoul
stopped, and Hadji Murad, rifle in hand, rode down into the ravine.
the mounted men followed him but did not draw any nearer. When Hadji
Murad had crossed to the other side of the ravine the men shouted to
him that he should hear what they had to say. In reply he fired his
rifle and put his horse to a gallop. When he reined it in his
pursuers were no longer within hearing and the crowing of the cocks
could also no longer be heard; only the murmur of the water in the
forest sounded more distinctly and now and then came the cry of an
owl. The black wall of the forest appeared quite close. It was in
the forest that his murids awaited him.
On reaching it Hadji Murad paused, and drawing much air into his
lungs he whistled and then listened silently. the next minute he was
answered by a similar whistle from the forest. Hadji Murad turned
from the road and entered it. When he had gone about a hundred paces
he saw among the trunks of the trees a bonfire, the shadows of some
men sitting round it, and, half lit-up by the firelight, a hobbled
horse which was saddled. Four men were sitting by the fire.
One of them rose quickly, and coming up to Hadji Murad took hold
of his bridle and stirrup. This was Hadji Murad's sworn brother who
managed his household affairs for him.
"Put out the fire," said Hadji Murad, dismounting.
The men began scattering the pile and trampling on the burning
"Has Bata been here?" asked Hadji Murad, moving towards a burka
that was spread on the ground.
"Yes, he went away long ago with Khan Mahoma."
"Which way did they go?"
"That way," answered Khanefi pointing in the opposite direction to
that from which Hadji Murad had come.
"All right," said Hadji Murad, and unslinging his rifle he began
to load it.
"We must take care -- I have been pursued," he said to a man who
was putting out the fire.
This was Gamzalo, a Chechen. Gamzalo approached the barka, took
up a rifle that lay on it wrapped in its cover, and without a word
went to that side of the glade from which Hadji Murad had come.
When Eldar had dismounted he took Hadji Murad's horse, and having
reined up both horses's heads high, tied them to two trees. Then he
shouldered his rifle as Gamzalo had done and went to the other side of
the glade. The bonfire was extinguished, the forest no longer looked
as black as before, but in the sky the stars still shone, thought
Lifting his eyes to the stars and seeing that the Pleiades had
already risen half-way up in the sky, Hadji Murad calculated that it
must be long past midnight and that his nightly prayer was long
overdue. He asked Khanefi for a ewer (they always carried one in
their packs), and putting on his barka went to the water.
Having taken off his shoes and performed his ablutions, Hadji
Murad stepped onto the burka with bare feet and then squatted down on
his calves, and having first placed his fingers in his ears and closed
his eyes, he turned to the south and recited the usual prayer.
When he had finished he returned to the place where the saddle
bags lay, and sitting down on the burka he leant his elbows on his
knees and bowed his head and fell into deep thought.
Hadji Murad always had great faith in his own fortune. When
planning anything he always felt in advance firmly convinced of
success, and fate smiled on him. It had been so, with a few rare
exceptions, during the whole course of his stormy militray life; and
so he hoped it would be now. He pictured to himself how -- with the
army vorontsov would place at his disposal -- he would march against
Shamil and take him prisoner, and revenge himself on him; and how the
russian Tsar would reward him and how he would again rule not only
over Avaria, but over the whole of Chechnya, which would submit to
him. With these thoughts he unwittingly fell asleep.
He dreamt how he and his brave followers rushed at Shamil with
songs and with the cry, "Hadji Murad is coming!" and how they seized
him and his wifes and how he heard the wives crying and sobbing. He
woke up. The song, Lya-il-allysha, and the cry "Hadji Murad is
coming!" and the weeping of shamil's wives, was the howling, weeping
and laughter of jackals that awoke him. Hadji Murad lifted his head,
glanced at the sky which, seen between the trunks of the trees, was
already growing light in the east and inquired after Khan Mahoma of a
murid who sat at some distance from him. On hearing that Khan Mahoma
had not yet returned, Hadji Murad again bowed his head and at once
He was awakened by the merry voice of Khan Mahoma returning from
his mission with Bata. Khan Mahoma at once sat down beside Hadji
Murad and told him how the soldiers had met them and had led them to
the prince himself, and how pleased the prince was and how he promised
to meet them in the morning where the Russians would be felling trees
beyond the Mitchik in the Shalin glade. Bata interrupted his
fellow-envoy to add details of his own.
Hadji Murad asked particularly for the words with which Vorontsov
had answered his offer to go over to the russians, and Khan Mahoma and
Bata replied with one voice that the prince promised to receive Hadji
Murad as a guest, and to act so that it should be well for him.
Then Hadji Murad questioned them about the road, and when Khan
Mahoma assured him that he knew the way well and would conduct him
straight to the spot, Hadji Murad took out some money and gave Bata
the promised three rubles. Then he ordered his men to take out of
the saddle bags his gold-ornamented weapons and his turban, and to
clean themselves up so as to look well when they arrived among the
While they cleaned their weapons, harness, and horses, the stars
faded away, it became quite light, and an early morning breeze sprang
Early in the morning, while it was still dark, two companies
carrying axes and commanded by Poltoratsky marched six miles beyond
the Shagirinsk Gate, and having thrown out a line of sharpshooters
set to work to fell trees as soon as the day broke. Towards eight
o'clock the mist which had mingled with the perfumed smoke of the
hissing and crackling damp green branches on the bonfires began to
rise and the wood-fellers -- who till then had not seen five paces
off but had only heard one another -- began to see both the bonfires
and the road through the forest, blocked with falled trees. The sun
now appeared like a bright spot in the fog and now again was hidden.
In the glade, some way from the road, Poltoratsky, his subaltern
Tikhonov, two officers of the Third Company, and Baron Freze, an
ex-officer of the Guards and a fellow student of Poltoratsky at the
Cadet College, who had been reduced to the ranks for fighting a duel,
were sitting on drums. Bits of paper that had contained food,
cigarette stumps, and empty bottles, lat scattered around them. The
officers had had some vodka and were now eating, and drinking porter.
A drummer was uncorking their third bottle.
Poltoratsky, although he had not had enough sleep, was in that
peculiar state of elation and kindly careless gaiety which he always
felt when he found himself among his soldiers and with his comrades
where there was a possibility of danger.
The officers were carrying on an animated conversation, the
subject of which was the latest news: the death of General Sletpsov.
None of them saw in this death that most important moment of a life,
its termination and return to the source when it sprang -- they saw in
it only the valour of a gallant officer who rushed at the mountaineers
sword in hand and hacked them desperately.
Though all of them -- and especially those who had been in action
-- knew and could not help knowing that in those days in the
Caucasus, and in fact anywhere and at any time, such hand-to- hand
hacking as is always imagined and described never occurs (or if
hacking with swords and bayonets ever does occur, it is only those who
are running away that get hacked), that fiction of hand- to-hand
fighting endowed them with the calm pride and cheerfulness with which
they say on the drums -- some with a jaunty air, others on the
contrary in a very modest pose, and drank and joked without troubling
about death, which might overtake them at any moment as it had
overtaken Sleptsov. And in the midst of their talk, as if to confirm
their expectations, they heard to the left of the road the pleasant
stirring sound of a rifle shot; and a bullet, merrily whistling
somewhere in the misty air, flew past and crashed into a tree.
"Hullo!" exclaimed Poltoratsky in a merry voice; "Why that's at
our line.... There now, Kostya," and he turned to Freze, "now's your
chance. Go back to the company. I will lead the whole company to
support the cordon and we'll arrange a battle that will be simply
delightful... and then we'll make a report."
Freze jumped to his feet and went at a quick pace towards the
smoke-enveloped spot where he had left his company.
Poltoratsky's little Kabarda dapple-bay was brought to him, and he
mounted and drew up his company and led it in the direction whence the
shots were fired. The outposts stood on the skirts of the forest in
front of the bare descending slope of a ravine. The wind was blowing
in the direction of the forest, and not only was it possible to see
the slope of the ravine, but the opposite side of it was also
distinctly visible. When Poltoratsky rode up to the line the sun came
out from behind the mist, and on the other side of the ravine, by the
outskirts of a young forest, a few horsemen could be seen at a
distance of a quarter of a mile. These were the Chechens who had
pursued Hadji Murad and wanted to see him meet the Russians. One of
them fired at the line. Several soldiers fired back. The Chechens
retreated and the firing ceased.
But when Poltoratsky and his company came up he nevertheles gave
orders to fire, and scarcely had the word been passed than along the
whole line of sharpshooters the incessant, merry, stirring rattle of
our rifles began, acompanied by pretty dissolving cloudlets of smoke.
The soldiers, pleased to have some distraction, hastened to load and
fired shot after shot. The Chechens evidently caught the feeling of
excitement, and leaping forward one after another fired a few shots at
our men. One of these shots wounded a soldier. It was the same
Avdeev who had lain in ambush the night before.
When his comrades approached him he was lying prone, holding his
wounded stomach with both hands, and rocking himself with a rhythmic
motion moaned softly. He belonged to Poltoratsky's company, and
Poltoratsky, seeing a group of soldiers collected, rode up to them.
"What is it, lad? Been hit?" said Poltoratsky. "Where?"
Avdeev did not answer.
"I was just going to load, your honor, when I heard a click," said
a soldier who had been with Avdeef; "and I look and see he's dropped
"Tut, tut, tut!" Poltoratsky clicked his tongue. "Does it hurt
"It doesn't hurt but it stops me walking. A dropu of vodka now,
Some vodka (or rather the spirit drunk by the soldiers in the
Caucasus) was found, and Panov, severely frowning, brought Avdeev a
can-lid full. Avdeev tried to drink it but immediately handed back
"My soul truns against it," he said. "Drink it yourself."
Panov drank up the spirit.
Avdeev raised himself but sank back at once. They spread out a
cloak and laid him on it.
"Your honor, the colonel is coming," said the sergeant-major to
"All right. then will you see to him?" said Poltoratsky, and
flourishing his whip he rode at a fast trot to meet Vorontsov.
Vorontsov was riding his thoroughbred English chestnut gelding,
and was accompanied by the adjutant, a Cossack, and a Chechen
"What's happening here?" asked Vorontsov.
"Why, a skirmishing party attacked our advanced line," Poltoratsky
"Come, come -- you arranged the whole thing yourself!"
"Oh no, Prince, not I," said Poltoratsky with a smile; "they
pushed forward of their own accord."
"I hear a soldier has been wounded?"
"Yes, it's a great pity. He's a good soldier."
"Seriously, I believe... in the stomach."
"And do you know where I am going?" vorontsov asked.
"Can't you guess?"
"Hadji Murad has surrendered and we are now going to meet him."
"You don't mean to say so?"
"His envoy came to me yesterday," said Vorontsov, with difficulty
repressing a smile of pleasure. "He will be waiting for me at the
Shalin glade in a few minutes. Place sharpshooters as far as the
glade, and then come and join me."
"I understand," said Poltoratsky, lifting his hand to his cap, and
rode back to his company. He led the sharp shooters to the right
himself, and ordered the seargeant-major to do the same on the left
The wounded Avdeev had meanwhile been taken back to the fort by
some of the soldiers.
On his way back to rejoin vorontsov, Poltoratsky noticed behind
him several horsemen who were overtaking him. In front on a
white-maned horse rode a man of imposing appearance. He wore a turban
and carried weapons with gold ornaments. This man was Hadji Murad.
He approached Poltoratsky and said something to him in Tartar.
Raising his eyebrows, Poltoratsky made a gesture with his arms to
show that he did not understand, and smiled. Hadji Murad gave him
smile for smile, and that smile struck Poltoratsky by its childlike
kindliness. Poltoratsky had never expected to see the terrible
mountain chief look like that. He had expected to see a morose,
hard-featured man, and here was a vivacious person whose smile was so
kindly that Poltoratsky felt as if he were an old acquaintance. He
had only one peculiarity: his eyes, set wide apart, which gazed from
under their black brows calmly, attentively, and penetratingly into
the eyes of others.
Hadji Murad's suit consisted of five men, among them was Khan
Mahoma, who had been to see Prince Vorontsov that night. He was a
rosy, round-faced fellow with black lashless eyes and a beaming
expression, full of the joy of life. Then there was the Avar
Khanefi, a thick-set, hairy man, whose eyebrows met. He was in
charge of all Hadji Murad's property and led a stud-bred horse which
carried tightly packed saddle bags. Two men of the suite were
particularly striking. The first was a Lesghian: a youth,
broad-shouldered but with a waist as slim as a woman's, beautiful
ram-like eyes, and the beginnings of a brown beard. This was Eldar.
The other, Gamzalo, was a Chechen with a short red beard and no
eyebrows or eyelashes; he was blind in one eye and had a scar across
his nose and face. Poltoratsky pointed out Vorontsov, who had just
appeared on the road. Hadji Murad rode to meet him, and putting his
right hand on his heart said something in Tartar and stopped. The
Chechen interpreter translated.
"He says, 'I surrender myself to the will of the Russian Tsar. I
wish to serve him,' he says. 'I wished to so do long ago but Shamil
would not let me.'"
Having heard what the interpreter said, Vorontsov stretched out
his hand in its wash-leather glove to Hadji Murad. Hadji Murad looked
at it hestitatingly for a moment and then pressed it firmly, again
saying something and looking first at the interpreter and then at
"He says he did not wish to surrender to any one but you, as you
are the son of the Sirdar and he respects you much."
Vorontsov nodded to express his thanks. Hadji Murad again said
something, pointing to his suite.
"He says that these men, his henchmen, will serve the Russians as
well as he."
Vorontsov turned towards then and nodded to them too. The merry,
black-eyed, lashless Chechen, Khan Mahoma, also nodded and said
something which was probably amusing, for the hairy Avar drew his lips
into a smile, showing his ivory-white teeth. But the red- haired
Gamzalo's one red eye just glanced at Vorontsov and then was again
fixed on the ears of his horse.
When Vorontsov and Hadji Murad with their retinues rode back to
the fort the soldiers released form the lines gathered in groups and
made their own comments.
"What a lot of men that damned fellow has destroyed! And now see
what a fuss they will make of him!"
"Naturally. He was Shamil's right hand, and now -- no fear!"
"Still there's no denying it! he's a fine fellow -- a regular
"And the red one! He squints at you like a beast!"
"Ugh! He must be a hound!"
They had all specially noticed the red one. Where the wood-
felling was going on the soldiers nearest to the road ran out to
look. Their officer shouted to them, but Vorontsov stopped him.
"Let them have a look at their old friend."
"You know who that is?" he added, turning to the nearest soldier,
and speaking the words slowly with his English accent.
"No, your Excellency."
"Hadji Murad.... Heard of him?"
"How could we help it, your Excellency? We've beaten him many a
"Yes, and we've had it hot from him too."
"Yes, that's true, your Excellency," answered the soldier, pleased
to be talking with his chief.
Hadji Murad understood that they were speaking about him, and
smiled brightly with his eyes.
Vornotsov returned to the fort in a very cheerful mood.
Young Vorontsov was much pleased that it was he, and no one else,
who had succeeded in winning over and receiving Hadji Murad -- next to
Shamil Russia's chief and most active enemy. There was only one
unpleasant thing about it: General Meller- Zakomelsky was in command
of the army at Vozdvizhenski, and the whole affair ought to have been
carried out through him. As Vorontsov had done everything himself
without reporting it there might be some unpleasantness, and this
thought rather interfered with his satisfaction. On reaching his
house he entrusted Hadji Murad's henchmen to the regimental adjutant
and himself showed Hadji Murad into the house.
Princess Marya Vasilevna, elegantly dressed and smiling, and her
little son, a handsome curly-headed child of six, met Hadji Murad in
the drawing room. The latter placed his hands on his heart, and
through the interpreter -- who had entered with him -- said with
solemnity that he regarded himself as the prince's kunak, since the
prince had brought him into his own house; and that a kunak's whole
family was as sacred as the kunak himself.
Hadji Murad's appearance and manners pleased Marya Vasilevna, and
the fact that he flushed when she held out her large white hand to him
inclined her still more in his favor. She invited him to sit down, and
having asked him whether he drank coffee, had some served. He,
however, declined it when it came. He understood a little Russian but
could not speak it. When something was said which he could not
understand he smiled, and his smile pleased Marya Vasilevna just as it
had pleased Poltoratsky. The curly-haired, keen-eyed little boy (whom
his mother called Bulka) standing beside her did not take his eyes
off Hadji Murad, whom he had always heard spoken of as a great
Leaving Hadji Murad with his wife, Vorontsov went to his office to
do what was necessary about reporting the fact of Hadji Murad's having
cove over to the Russians. When he had written a report to the
general in command of the left flank -- General Kozlovsky -- at
Grozny, and a letter to his father, Vorontsov hurried home, afraid
that his wife might be vexed with him for forcing on her this terrible
stranger, who had to be treated in such a way that he should not take
offense, and yet not too kindly. But his fears were needless. Hadji
Murad was sitting in an armchair with little Bulka, Vorontsov's
stepson, on his knee, and with bent head was listening attentively to
the interpreter who was translating to him the words of the laughing
marya Vasilevna. Marya Vasilevna was telling him that if every time a
kunak admired anything of his he made him a present of it, he would
soon have to go about like Adam....
When the prince entered, Hadji Murad rose at once and, surprising
and offending Bulka by putting him off his knee, changed the playful
expression of his face to a stern and serious one. He only sat down
again when Vorontsov had himself taken a seat.
Continuing the conversation he answered Marya Vasilevna by telling
her that it was a law among his people that anything your kunak
admired must be presented to him.
"Thy son, kunak?" he said in Russian, patting the curly head of
the boy who had again climbed on his knee.
"He is delightful, your brigand!" said Marya Vasilevna to her
husband in french. "Bulka has been admiring his dagger, and he has
given it to him."
Bulka showed the dagger to his father. "C'est un objet de prix!"
"Il faudra trouver l'occasion de lui faire cadeau," said
Hadji Murad, his eyes turned down, sat stroking the boy's curly
hair and saying: "Dzhigit, dzhigit!"
"A beautiful, beautiful dagger," said Vorontsov, half drawing out
the sharpened blade which had a ridge down the center. "I thank
"Ask him what I can do for him," he said to the interpreter.
The interpreter translated, and Hadji Murad at once replied that
he wanted nothing but that he begged to be taken to a place where he
could say his prayers.
Vorontsov called his valet and told him to do what Hadji Murad
As soon as Hadji Murad was alone in the room allotted to him his
face altered. The pleased expression, now kindly and now stately,
vanished, and a look of anxiety showed itself. Vorontsov had received
him far better than Hadji Murad had expected. But the better the
reception the less did Hadji Murad trust Vorontsov and his officers.
He feared everything: that he might be seized, chained, and sent to
Siberia, or simply killed; and therefore he was on his guard. He
asked Eldar, when the latter entered his room, where his murids had
been put and whether their arms had been taken from them, and where
the horses were. Eldar reported that the horses were in the prince's
stables; that the men had been placed in a barn; that they retained
their arms, and that the interpreter was giving them food and tea.
Hadji Murad shook his head in doubt, and after undressing said his
prayers and told Eldar to bring him his silver dagger. He then
dressed, and having fastened his belt, sat down on the divan with his
legs tucked under him, to await what might befall him.
At four in the afternoon the interpreter came to call him to dine
with the prince.
At dinner he hardly ate anything except some pilau, to which he
helped himself from the very part of the dish from which Marya
Vasilevna had helped herself.
"He is afraid we shall poison him," Marya Vasilevna remarked to
her husband. "He has helped himself from the place where I took my
helping." Then instantly turning to Hadji Murad she asked him through
the interpreter when he would pray again. Hadji Murad lifted five
fingers and pointed to the sun. "Then it will soon be time," and
Vorontsov drew out his watch and pressed a spring. The watch struck
four and one quarter. This evidently surprised Hadji Murad, and he
asked to hear it again and to be allowed to look at the watch.
"Voila l'occasion! Donnez-lui la montre," said the princess to
Vorontsov at once offered the watch to Hadji Murad.
The latter placed his hand on his breast and took the watch. He
touched the spring several times, listened, and nodded his head
After dinner, Meller-Zakomelsky's aide-de-camp was announced.
The aide-de-camp informed the prince that the general, having
heard of Hadji Murad's arrival, was highly displeased that this had
not been reported to him, and required Hadji Murad to be brought to
him without delay. Vorontsov replied that the general's command
should be obeyed, and through the interpreter informed Hadji Murad of
these orders and asked him to go to Meller with him.
When Marya Vasilevna heard what the aide-de-camp had come about,
she at once understood that unpleasantness might arise between her
husband and the general, and in spite of all her husband's attempts to
dissuade her, decided to go with him and Hadji Murad.
"Vous feriez blen mieux de rester -- c'est mon affaire, non pas la
"Vous ne pouvez pas m'empecher d'aller voir madame la generale!"
"You could go some other time."
"But I wish to go now!"
There was no help for it, so Vorontsov agreed, and they all three
When they entered, Meller with somber politeness conducted Marya
Vasilevna to his wife and told his aide-de-camp to show Hadji Murad to
the waiting room and not let him out till further orders.
"Please..." he said to Vorontsov, opening the door of his study
and letting the prince enter before him.
Having entered the study he stopped in front of Vorontsov and,
without offering him a seat, said:
"I am in command here and therefore all negotiations with the
enemy have to be carried on through me! Why did you not report to me
that Hadji Murad had come over?"
"An emissary came to me and announced his wish to capitulate only
to me," replied Vorontsov growing pale with excitement, expecting some
rude expression from the angry general and at the same time becoming
infected with his anger.
"I ask you why was I not informed?"
"I intended to inform you, Baron, but..."
"You are not to address me as 'Baron,' but as 'Your Excellency'!"
And here the baron's pent-up irritation suddenly broke out and he
uttered all that had long been boiling in his soul.
"I have not served my sovereign twenty-seven years in order that
men who began their service yesterday, relying on family connections,
should give orders under my very nose about matters that do not
"Your Excellency, I request you not to say things that are
incorrect!" interrupted Vorontsov.
"I am saying what is correct, and I won't allow..." said the
general, still more irritably.
But at that moment Marya Vasilevna entered, rustling with her
skirts and followed by a model-looking little lady, Meller-
"Come, come, Baron! Simon did not wish to displease you," began
"I am not speaking about that, Princess...."
"Well, well, let's forget it all!... You know, 'A bad peace is
better than a good quarrel!'... Oh dear, what am I saying?" and she
The angry general capitulated to the enchanting laugh of the
beauty. A smile hovered under his moustache.
"I confess I was wrong," said Vorontsov, "but--"
"And I too got rather carried away," said Meller, and held out his
hand to the prince.
Peace was re-established, and it was decided to leave Hadji Murad
with the general for the present, and then to send him to the
commander of the left flank.
Hadji Murad sat in the next room and though he did not understand
what was said, he understood what it was necessary for him to
understand -- namely, that they were quarrelling about him, that his
desertion of Shamil was a matter of immense importance to the
Russians, and that therefore not only would they not exile or kill
him, but that he would be able to demand much from them. He also
understood that though Meller-Zakomelsky was the commanding officer,
he had not as much influence as his subordinate Vorontsov, and that
Vorontsov was important and Meller-Zakomelsky unimportant; and
therefore when Meller- Zakomelsky sent for him and began to question
him, Hadji Murad bore himself proudly and ceremoniously, saying that
he had come from the mountains to serve the White Tsar and would give
account only to his Sirdar, meaning the commander-in-chief, Prince
Vorontsov senior, in Tiflis.
The wounded Avdeev was taken to the hospital -- a small wooden
building roofed with boards at the entrance of the fort -- and was
placed on one of the empty beds in the common ward. There were four
patients in the ward: one ill with typhus and in high fever; another,
pale, with dark shadows under his eyes, who had ague, was just
expecting attack and yawned continually; and two more who had been
wounded in a raid three weeks before: one in the hand -- he was up --
and the other in the shoulder. The latter was sitting on a bed. All
of them except the typhus patient surrounded and questioned the
newcomer and those who had brought him.
"Sometimes they fire as if they were spilling peas over you, and
nothing happens... and this time only about five shots were fired,"
related one of the bearers.
"Each man get what fate sends!"
"Oh!" groaned Avdeev loudly, trying to master his pain when they
began to place him on the bed; but he stopped groaning when he was on
it, and only frowned and moved his feet continually. He held his hands
over his wound and looked fixedly before him.
The doctor came, and gave orders to turn the wounded man over to
see whether the bullet had passed out behind.
"What's this?" the doctor asked, pointing to the large white scars
that crossed one another on the patient's back and loins.
"That was done long ago, your honor!" replied Avdeev with a groan.
They were scars left by the flogging Avdeev had received for the
money he drank.
Avdeev was again turned over, and the doctor probed in his stomach
for a long time and found the bullet, but failed to extract it. He
put a dressing on the wound, and having stuck plaster over it went
away. During the whole time the doctor was probing and bandaging the
wound Avdeev lay with clenched teeth and closed eyes, but when the
doctor had gone he opened them and looked around as though amazed.
His eyes were turned on the other patients and on the surgeon's
orderly, though he seemed to see not them but something else that
His friends Panov and Serogin came in, but Avdeev continued to lie
in the same position looking before him with surprise. It was long
before he recognized his comrades, though his eyes gazed straight at
"I say, Peter, have you no message to send home?" said Panov.
Avdeev did not answer, though he was looking Panov in the face.
"I say, haven't you any orders to send home?" again repeated
Panov, touching Avdeev's cold, large-boned hand.
Avdeev seemed to come to.
"Yes, I'm here.... I've come! Have you nothing for home? Serogin
would write a letter."
"Serogin... " said Avdeev moving his eyes with difficulty towards
Serogin, "will you write?... Well then, wrote so: 'Your son,' say
'Peter, has given orders that you should live long. He envied his
brother'... I told you about that today... ' and now he is himself
glad. Don't worry him.... Let him live. God grant it him. I am
glad!' Write that."
Having said this he was silent for some time with his eyes fixed
"And did you find your pipe?" he suddenly asked.
Panov did not reply.
"Your pipe... your pipe! I mean, have you found it?" Avdeev
"It was in my gag."
"That's right!... Well, and now give me a candle to hold ... I am
going to die," said Avdeev.
Just then Poltoratsky came in to inquire after his soldier.
"How goes it, my lad! Badly?" said he.
Avdeev closed his eyes and shook his head negatively. His
broad-cheeked face was pale and stern. He did not reply, but again
said to Panov:
"Bring a candle.... I am going to die."
A wax taper was placed in his hand but his fingers would not bend,
so it was placed between them and held up for him.
Poltoratsky went away, and five minutes later the orderly put his
ear to Avdeev's heart and said that all was over.
Avdeev's death was described in the following manner in the report
sent to Tiflis:
"23rd Nov. -- Two companies of the Kurin regiment advanced from
the fort on a wood-felling expedition. At mid-day a considerable
number of mountaineers suddenly attacked the wood- fellers. The
sharpshooters began to retreat, but the 2nd Company charged with the
bayonet and overthrew the mountaineers. In this affair two privates
were slightly wounded and one killed. The mountaineers lost about a
hundred men killed and wounded."
On the day Peter Avdeev died in the hospital at Vozdvizhensk, his
old father with the wife of the brother in whose stead he had
enlisted, and that brother's daughter -- who was already approaching
womanhood and almost of age to get married -- were threshing oats on
the hard-frozen threshing floor.
There had been a heavy fall of snow the previous night followed
towards morning by a severe front. The old man woke when the cocks
were crowing for the third time, and seeing the bright moonlight
through the frozen windowpanes got down from the stove, put on his
boots, his sheepskin coat and cap, and went out to the threshing
floor. Having worked there for a couple of hours he returned to the
hut and awoke his son and the women. When the woman and girl came to
the threshing floor they found it ready swept, with a wooden shovel
sticking in the dry white snow, beside which were birch brooms with
the twigs upwards and two rows of oat sheaves laid ears to ears in a
long line the whole length of the clean threshing floor. They chose
their flails and started threshing, keeping time with their triple
blows. The old man struck powerfully with his heavy flail, breaking
the straw, the girl struck the ears from above with measured blows,
and the daughter-in-law turned the oats over with her flail.
The moon had set, dawn was breaking, and they were finishing the
line of sheaves when Akim, the eldest son, in his sheepskin and cap,
joined the threshers.
"What are you lazing about for?" shouted his father to him,
pausing in his work and leaning on his flail.
"The horses had to be seen to."
"'Horses seen to!'" the father repeated, mimicking him. "The old
woman will look after them.... Take your flail! You're getting too
fat, you drunkard!"
"Have you been standing me treat?" muttered the son.
"What?" said the old man, frowning sternly and missing a stroke.
The son silently took a flail and they began threshing with four
"Trak, tapatam...trak, tapatam...trak..." came down the old man's
heavy flail after the three others.
"Why, you've got a nape like a goodly gentleman!... Look here, my
trousers have hardly anything to hand on!" said the old man, omitting
his stroke and only swinging his flail in the air so as not to get out
They had finished the row, and the women began removing the straw
"Peter was a fool to go in your stead. They'd have knocked the
nonsense out of you in the army, and he was worth five of such as you
"That's enough, father," said the daughter-in-law, as she threw
aside the binders that had come off the sheaves.
"Yes, feed the six of you and get no work out of a single one!
Peter used to work for two. He was not like..."
Along the trodden path from the house came the old man's wife, the
frozen snow creaking under the new bark shoes she wore over her
tightly wound woolen leg-bands. The men were shovelling the
unwinnowed grain into heaps, the woman and the girl sweeping up what
The Elder has been and orders everybody to go and work for the
master, carting bricks," said the old woman. "I've got breakfast
ready.... Come along, won't you?"
"All right.... Harness the roan and go," said the old man to
Akim, "and you'd better look out that you don't get me into trouble as
you did the other day!... I can't help regretting Peter!"
"When he was at home you used to scold him," retorted Akim. "Now
he's away you keep nagging at me."
"That shows you deserve it," said his mother in the same angry
tones. "You'll never be Peter's equal."
"Oh, all right," said the son.
"'All right,' indeed! You've drunk the meal, and now you say 'all
"Let bygones be bygones!" said the daughter-in-law.
The disagreements between father and son had begun long ago --
almost from the time Peter went as a soldier. Even then the old man
felt that he had parted with an eagle for a cuckoo. It is true that
it was right -- as the old man understood it -- for a childless man to
go in place of a family man. Akin had four children and Peter had
none; but Peter was a worker like his father, skilful, observant,
strong, enduring, and above all industrious. He was always at work.
If he happened to pass by where people were working he lent a helping
hand as his father would have done, and took a turn or two with the
scythe, or loaded a cart, or felled a tree, or chopped some wood. The
old man regretted his going away, but there was no help for it.
Conscription in those days was like death. A soldier was a severed
branch, and to think about him at home was to tear one's heart
uselessly. Only occasionally, to prick his elder son, did the father
mention him, as he had done that day. But his mother often thought of
her younger son, and for a long time -- more than a year now -- she
had been asking her husband to send Peter a little money, but the old
man had made no response.
The Kurenkovs were a well-to-do family and the old man had some
savings hidden away, but he would on no account have consented to
touch what he had laid by. Now however the old woman having heard him
mention their younger son, made up her mind to ask him again to send
him at least a ruble after selling the oats. This she did. As soon
as the young people had gone to work for the proprietor and the old
folks were left alone together, she persuaded him to send Peter a
ruble out of the oats-money.
So when ninety-six bushels of the winnowed oats had been packed
onto three sledges lined with sacking carefully pinned together at the
top with wooden skewers, she gave her husband a letter the church
clerk had written at her dictation, and the old man promised when he
got to town to enclose a ruble and send it off to the right address.
The old man, dressed in a new sheepskin with homespun cloak over
it, his legs wrapped round with warm white woollen leg- bands, took
the letter, placed it in his wallet, said a prayer, got into the front
sledge, and drove to town. His grandson drove in the last sledge.
When he reached town the old man asked the innkeeper to read the
letter to him, and listened to it attentively and approvingly.
In her letter Peter's mother first sent him her blessing, then
greetings from everybody and the news of his godfather's death, and at
the end she added that Aksinya (Peter's wife) had not wished to stay
with them but had gone into service, where they heard she was living
honestly and well. Then came a reference to the present of a ruble,
and finally a message which the old woman, yielding to her sorrows,
had dictated with tears in her eyes and the church clerk had taken
down exactly, word for word:
"One thing more, my darling child, my sweet dove, my own Peterkin!
I have wept my eyes out lamenting for thee, thou light of my eyes.
To whom has thou left me?..." At this point the old woman had sobbed
and wept, and said: "That will do!" So the words stood in the
letter; but it was not fated that Peter should receive the news of his
wife's having left home, nor the present of the ruble, nor his
mother's last words. The letter with the money in it came back with
the announcement that Peter had been killed in the war, "defending his
Tsar, his Fatherland, and the Orthodox Faith." That is how the army
clerk expressed it.
The old woman, when this news reached her, wept for as long as she
could spare time, and then set to work again. The very next Sunday
she went to church and had a requiem chanted and Peter's name entered
among those for whose souls prayers were to be said, and she
distributed bits of holy bread to all the good people in memory of
Peter, the servant of God.
Aksinya, his widow, also lamented loudly when she heard of the
death of her beloved husband with whom she had lived but one short
year. She regretted her husband and her own ruined life, and in her
lamentations mentioned Peter's brown locks and his love, and the
sadness of her life with her little orphaned Vanka, and bitterly
reproached Peter for having had pity on his brother but none on her --
obliged to wander among strangers!
But in the depth of her soul Aksinya was glad of her husband's
death. She was pregnant a second time by the shopman with whom she
was living, and no one would now have a right to scold her, and the
shopman could marry her as he had said he would when he was persuading
her to yield.
Michael Semenovich Vorontsov, being the son of the Russian
Ambassador, had been educated in England and possessed a European
education quite exceptional among the higher Russian officials of his
day. He was ambitious, gentle and kind in his manner with inferiors,
and a finished courtier with superiors. He did not understand life
without power and submission. He had obtained all the highest ranks
and decorations and was looked upon as a clever commander, and even as
the conqueror of Napoleon at Krasnoe.
In 1852 he was over seventy, but young for his age, he moved
briskly, and above all was in full possession of a facile, refined,
and agreeable intellect which he used to maintain his power and
strengthen and increase his popularity. He possessed large means --
his own and his wife's (who had been a countess Branitski) -- and
received an enormous salary as Viceroy, and he spent a great part of
his means on building a palace and laying out a garden on the south
coast of the Crimea.
On the evening of December the 4th, 1852, a courier's troika drew
up before his palace in Tiflis. an officer, tired and black with dust,
sent by General Kozlovski with the news of Hadji Murad's surrender to
the Russians, entered the wide porch, stretching the stiffened muscles
of his legs as he passed the sentinel. It was six o'clock, and
Vorontsov was just going in to dinner when he was informed of the
courier's arrival. He received him at once, and was therefore a few
minutes late for dinner.
When he entered the drawing room the thirty persons invited to
dine, who were sitting beside Princess Elizabeth Ksaverevna
Vorontsova, or standing in groups by the windows, turned their faces
towards him. Vorontsov was dressed in his usual black military coat,
with shoulderstraps but no epaulets, and wore the White Cross of the
Order of St. George at his neck.
His clean shaven, foxlike face wore a pleasant smile as, screwing
up his eyes, he surveyed the assembly. Entering with quick soft steps
he apologized to the ladies for being late, greeted the men, and
approaching Princess Manana Orbelyani -- a tall, fine, handsome woman
of Oriental type about forty-five years of age -- he offered her his
arm to take her in to dinner. Princess Elizabeth Ksaverevna Vorontsova
gave her arm to a red- haired general with bristly mustaches who was
visiting Tiflis. A Georgian prince offered his arm to Princess
Vorontsova's friend, Countess Choiseuil. Doctor Andreevsky, the
aide-de-camp, and others, with ladies or without, followed these first
couples. Footmen in livery and knee-breeches drew back and replaced
the guests' chairs when they sat down, while the major-domo
ceremoniously ladled out steaming soup from a silver tureen.
Vorontsov took his place in the center of one side of the long
table, and wife sat opposite, with the general on her right. On the
prince's right sat his lady, the beautiful Orbelyani; and on his left
was a graceful, dark, red-cheeked Georgian woman, glittering with
jewels and incessantly smiling.
"Excellentes, chere amie!" replied Vorontsov to his wife's inquiry
about what news the courier had brought him. "Simon a eu de la
chance!" And he began to tell aloud, so that everyone could hear, the
striking news (for him alone not quite unexpected, because
negotiations had long been going on) that Hadji Murad, the bravest and
most famous of Shamil's officers, had come over to the Russians and
would in a day or two be brought to Tiflis.
Everybody -- even the young aides-de-camp and officials who sat at
the far ends of the table and who had been quietly laughing at
something among themselves -- became silent and listened.
"And you, General, have you ever met this Hadji Murad?" asked the
princess of her neighbor, the carroty general with the bristly
mustaches, when the prince had finished speaking.
"More than once, Princess."
And the general went on to tell how Hadji Murad, after the
mountaineers had captured Gergebel in 1843, had fallen upon General
Pahlen's detachment and killed Colones Zolotukhin almost before their
Vorontsov listened to the general and smiled amiably, evidently
pleased that the latter had joined in the conversation. But suddenly
his face assumed an absent-minded and depressed expression.
The general, having started talking, had begun to tell of his
second encounter with Hadji Murad.
"Why, it was he, if your Excellency will please remember," said
the general, "who arranged the ambush that attacked the rescue party
in the 'Biscuit' expedition."
"Where?" asked Vorontsov, screwing up his eyes.
What the brave general spoke of as the "rescue" was the affair in
the unfortunate Dargo campaign in which a whole detachment, including
Prince Vorontsov who commanded it, would certainly have perished had
it not been rescued by the arrival of fresh troops. Every one knew
that the whole Dargo campaign under Vorontsov's command -- in which
the Russians lost many killed and wounded and several cannon -- had
been a shameful affair, and therefore if any one mentioned it in
Vorontsov's presence they did so only in the aspect in which Vorontsov
had reported it to the Tsar -- as a brilliant achievement of the
Russian army. But the word "rescue" plainly indicated that it was not
a brilliant victory but a blunder costing many lives. Everybody
understood this and some pretended not to notice the meaning of the
general's words, others nervously waited to see what would follow,
while a few exchanged glances, and smiled. Only the carroty general
with the bristly mustaches noticed nothing, and carried away by his
narrative quietly replied:
"At the rescue, your Excellency."
Having started on his favorite theme, the general recounted
circumstantially how Hadji Murad had so cleverly cut the detachment
in two that if the rescue party had not arrived (he seemed to be
particularly fond of repeating the word "rescue") not a man in the
division would have escaped, because...He did not finish his story,
for Manana Orbelyani, having understood what was happening,
interrupted him by asking if he had found comfortable quarters in
Tiflis. The general, surprised, glanced at everybody all round and
saw his aides-de-camp from the end of the table looking fixedly and
significantly at him, and he suddenly understood! Without replying to
the princess's question, he frowned, became silent, and began
hurriedly swallowing the delicacy that lay on his plate, the
appearance and taste of which both completely mystified him.
Everybody felt uncomfortable, but the awkwardness of the situation
was relieved by the Georgian prince -- a very stupid man but an
extraordinarily refined and artful flatterer and courtier -- who sat
on the other side of Princess Vorontsova. Without seeming to have
noticed anything he began to relate how Hadji Murad had carried off
the widow of Akhmet Khan of Mekhtuli.
"He came into the village at night, seized what he wanted, and
galloped off again with the whole party."
"Why did he want that particular woman?" asked the princess.
"Oh, he was her husband's enemy, and pursued him but could never
once succeed in meeting him right up to the time of his death, so he
revenged himself on the widow."
The princess translated this into French for her old friend
Countess Choiseuil, who sat next to the Georgian prince.
"Quelle horreur!" said the countess, closing her eyes and shaking
"Oh no!" said Vorontsov, smiling. "I have been told that he
treated his captive with chivalrous respect and afterwards released
"Yes, for a ransom!"
"Well, of course. But all the same he acted honorably."
These words of Vorontsov's set the tone for the further
conversation. The courtiers understood that the more importance was
attributed to Hadji Murad the better the prince would be pleased.
"The man's audacity is amazing. A remarkable man!"
"Why, in 1849 he dashed into Temir Khan Shura and plundered the
shops in broad daylight."
An Armenian sitting at the end of the table, who had been in Temir
Khan Shura at the time, related the particulars of that exploit of
In fact, Hadji Murad was the sole topic of conversation during the
Everybody in succession praised his courage, his ability, and his
magnanimity. Someone mentioned his having ordered twenty six
prisoners to be killed, but that too was met by the usual rejoinder,
"What's to be done? A la guerre, comme al la guerre!"
"He is a great man."
"Had he been born in Europe he might have been another Napoleon,"
said the stupid Georgian prince with a gift of flattery.
He knew that every mention of Napoleon was pleasant to Vorontsov,
who wore the White Cross at his neck as a reward for having defeated
"Well, not Napoleon perhaps, but a gallant cavalry general if you
like," said Vorontsov.
"If not Napoleon, then Murat."
"And his name is Hadji Murad!"
"Hadji Murad has surrendered and now there'll be an end to Shamil
too," someone remarked.
"They feel that now" (this "now" meant under Vorontsov) "they
can't hold out," remarked another.
"Tout cela est grace a vous!" said Manana Orbelyani.
Prince Vorontsov tried to moderate the waves of flattery which
began to flow over him. Still, it was pleasant, and in the best of
spirits he led his lady back into the drawing room.
After dinner, when coffee was being served in the drawing room,
the prince was particularly amiable to everybody, and going up to the
general with the red bristly mustaches he tried to appear not to have
noticed his blunder.
Having made a round of the visitors he sat down to the card table.
He only played the old-fashioned game of ombre. His partners were
the Georgian prince, an Armenia general (who had learned the game of
ombre from Prince Vorontsov's valet), and Doctor Andreevsky, a man
remarkable for the great influence he exercised.
Placing beside him his gold snuff-box with a portrait of Aleksandr
I on the lid, the prince tore open a pack of highly glazed cards and
was going to spread them out, when his Italian valet brought him a
letter on a silver tray.
"Another courier, your Excellency."
Vorontsov laid down the cards, excused himself, opened the letter,
and began to read.
The letter was from his son, who described Hadji Murad's surrender
and his own encounter with Meller-Zakomelsky.
The princess came up and inquired what their son had written.
"It's all about the same matter.... Il a eu quelques desagrements
avec le commandant de la place. Simon a eu tort. ... But 'All's well
that ends well,'" he added in English, handing the letter to his wife;
and turning to his respectfully waiting partners he asked them to draw
When the first round had been dealt Vorontsov did what he was in
the habit of doing when in a particularly pleasant mood: with his
white, wrinkled old hand he took out a pinch of French snuff, carried
it to his nose, and released it.
When Hadji Murad appeared at the prince's palace next day, the
waiting room was already full of people. Yesterday's general with the
bristly mustaches was there in full uniform with all his decorations,
having come to take leave. There was the commander of a regiment who
was in danger of being court martialled for misappropriating
commisarriat money, and there was a rich Armenian (patronized by
Doctor Andreevsky) who wanted to obtain from the Government a renewal
of his monopoly for the sale of vodka. There, dressed in black, was
the widow of an officer who had been killed in action. She had come
to ask for a pension, or for free education for her children. There
was a ruined Georgian prince in a magnificent Georgian costume who was
trying to obtain for himself some confiscated Church property. There
was an official with a large roll of paper containing a new plan for
subjugating the Caucasus. There was also a Khan who had come solely
to be able to tell his people at home that he had called on the
They all waited their turn and were one by one shown into the
prince's cabinet and out again by the aide-de-camp, a handsome,
When Hadji Murad entered the waiting room with his brisk though
limping step all eyes were turned towards him and he heard his name
whispered from various parts of the room.
He was dressed in a long white Circassian coat over a brown
beshmet trimmed round the collar with fine silver lace. He wore
black leggings and soft shoes of the same color which were stretched
over his instep as tight as gloves. On his head he wore a high cap
draped turban-fashion -- that same turban for which, on the
denunciation of Akhmet Khan, he had been arrested by General Klugenau
and which had been the cause of his going over to Shamil.
He stepped briskly across the parquet floor of the waiting room,
his whole slender figure swaying slightly in consequence of his
lameness in one leg which was shorter than the other. His eyes, set
far apart, looked calmly before him and seemed to see no one.
The handsome aide-de-camp, having greeted him, asked him to take a
seat while he went to announce him to the prince, but Hadji Murad
declined to sit down and, putting his hand on his dagger, stood with
one foot advanced, looking round contemptuously at all those present.
The prince's interpreter, Prince Tarkhanov, approached Hadji Murad
and spoke to him. Hadji Murad answered abruptly and unwillingly. A
Kumyk prince, who was there to lodge a complaint against a police
official, came out of the prince's room, and then the aide-de-camp
called Hadji Murad, led him to the door of the cabinet, and showed him
The Commander-in-Chief received Hadji Murad standing beside his
table, and his old white face did not wear yesterday's smile but was
rather stern and solemn.
On entering the large room with its enormous table and great
windows with green venetian blinds, Hadji Murad placed his small
sunburnt hands on his chest just where the front of his white coat
overlapped, and lowering his eyes began, without hurrying, to speak
distinctly and respectfully, using the Kumyk dialect which he spoke
"I place myself under the powerful protection of the great Tsar
and of yourself," said he, "and promise to serve the White Tsar in
faith and truth to the last drop of my blood, and I hope to be useful
to you in the war with Shamil who is my enemy and yours."
Having the interpreter out, Vorontsov glanced at Hadji Murad and
Hadji Murad glanced at Vorontsov.
The eyes of the two men met, and expressed to each other much that
could not have been put into words and that was not at all what the
interpreter said. Without words they told each other the whole truth.
Vorontsov's eyes said that he did not believe a single word Hadji
Murad was saying, and that he knew he was and always would be an enemy
to everything Russian and had surrendered only because he was obliged
to. Hadji Murad understood this and yet continued to give assurances
of his fidelity. His eyes said, "That old man ought to be thinking of
his death and not of war, but though he is old he is cunning, and I
must be careful." Vorontsov understood this also, but nevertheless
spoke to Hadji Murad in the way he considered necessary for the
success of the war.
"Tell him," said Vorontsov, "that our sovereign is as merciful as
he is mighty and will probably at my request pardon him and take him
into his service.... Have you told him?" he asked looking at Hadji
Murad.... "Until I receive my master's gracious decision, tell him I
take it on myself to receive him and make his sojourn among us
Hadji Murad again pressed his hands to the center of his chest and
began to say something with animation.
"He says," the interpreter translated, "that formerly, when he
governed Avaria in 1839, he served the Russians faithfully and would
never have deserted them had not his enemy, Akhmet Khan, wishing to
ruin him, calumniated him to General Klugenau."
"I know, I know," said Vorontsov (though if he had ever known he
had long forgotten it). "I know," he repeated, sitting down and
motioning Hadji Murad to the divan that stood beside the wall. But
Hadji Murad did not sit down. Shrugging his powerful shoulders as a
sign that he could not bring himself to sit in the presence of so
important a man, he went on, addressing the interpreter:
"Akhmet Khan and Shamil are both my enemies. Tell the prince that
Akhmet Khan is dead and I cannot revenge myself on him, but Shamil
lives and I will not die without taking vengeance on him," said he,
knitting his brows and tightly closing his mouth.
"Yes, yes; but how does he want to revenge himself on Shamil?"
said Vorontsov quietly to the interpreter. "And tell him he may sit
Hadji Murad again declined to sit down, and in answer to the
question replied that his object in coming over to the Russians was
to help them to destroy Shamil.
"Very well, very well," said Vorontsov; "but what exactly does he
wish to do?... Sit down, sit down!"
Hadji Murad sat down, and said that if only they would send him to
the Lesghian line and would give him an army, he would guarantee to
raise the whole of Daghestan and Shamil would then be unable to hold
"That would be excellent.... I'll think it over," said
The interpreter translated Vorontsov's words to Hadji Murad.
Hadji Murad pondered.
"Tell the Sirdar one thing more," Hadji Murad began again, "that
my family are in the hands of my enemy, and that as long as they are
in the mountains I am bound and cannot serve him. Shamil would kill my
wife and my mother and my children if I went openly against him. Let
the prince first exchange my family for the prisoners he has, and then
I will destroy Shamil or die!"
"All right, all right," said Vorontsov. "I will think it over.
... Now let him go to the chief of the staff and explain to him in
detail his position, intentions, and wishes."
Thus ended the first interview between Hadji Murad and Vorontsov.
That even an Italian opera was performed at the new theater, which
was decorated in Oriental style. Vorontsov was in his box when the
striking figure of the limping Hadji Murad wearing a turban appeared
in the stalls. He came in with Loris-Melikov, Vorontsov's
aide-de-cam;, in whose charge he was placed, and took a seat in the
front row. Having sat through the first act with Oriental Mohammedan
dignity, expressing no pleasure but only obvious indifference, he rose
and looking calmly round at the audience went out, drawing to himself
The next day was Monday and there was the usual evening party at
the Vorontsovs'. In the large brightly lighted hall a band was
playing, hidden among trees. Young women and women not very young
wearing dresses that displayed their bare necks, arms, and breasts,
turned round and round in the embrace of men in bright uniforms. At
the buffet, footmen in red swallow-tail coats and wearing shoes and
knee-breeches, poured out champagne and served sweetmeats to the
ladies. The "Sirdar's" wife also, in spite of her age, went about
half-dressed among the visitors smiling affably, and through the
interpreter said a few amiable words to Hadji Murad who glanced at the
visitors with the same indifference he had shown yesterday in the
theater. After the hostess, other half-naked women came up to him and
all of them stood shamelessly before him and smilingly asked him the
same question: How he liked what he saw? Vorontsov himself, wearing
gold epaulets and gold shoulder-knots with his white cross and ribbon
at his neck, came up and asked him the same question, evidently
feeling sure, like all the others, that Hadji Murad could not help
being pleased at what he saw. Hadji Murad replied to Vorontsov as he
had replied to them all, that among his people nothing of the kind was
done, without expressing an opinion as to whether it was good or bad
that it was so.
Here at the ball Hadji Murad tried to speak to Vorontsov about
buying out his family, but Vorontsov, pretending that he had not heard
him, walked away, and Loris-Melikov afterwards told Hadji Murad that
this was the place to talk about business.
When it struck eleven Hadji Murad, having made sure of the time by
the watch the Vorontsovs had given him, asked Loris- Melikov whether
he might now leave. Loris-Melikov said he might, though it would be
better to stay. In spite of this Hadji Murad did not stay, but drove
in the phaeton placed at his disposal to the quarters that had been
assigned to him.
On the fifth day of Hadji Murad's stay in Tiflis Loris- Melikov,
the Viceroy's aide-de-camp, came to see him at the latter's command.
"My head and my hands are glad to serve the Sirdar," said Hadji
Murad with his usual diplomatic expression, bowing his head and
putting his hands to his chest. "Command me!" said he, looking
amiably into Loris-Melikov's face.
Loris-Melikov sat down in an arm chair placed by the table and
Hadji Murad sank onto a low divan opposite and, resting his hands on
his knees, bowed his head and listened attentively to what the other
said to him.
Loris-Melikov, who spoke Tartar fluently, told him that though the
prince knew about his past life, he yet wanted to hear the whole story
Tell it me, and I will write it down and translate it into Russian
and the prince will send it to the Emperor."
Hadji Murad remained silent for a while (he never interrupted
anyone but always waited to see whether his interlocutor had not
something more to say), then he raised his head, shook back his cap,
and smiled the peculiar childlike smile that had captivated Marya
"I can do that," said he, evidently flattered by the thought that
his story would be read by the Emperor.
"Thou must tell me" (in Tartar nobody is addressed as "you")
"everything, deliberately from the beginning," said Loris Melikov
drawing a notebook from his pocket.
"I can do that, only there is much -- very much -- to tell! Many
events have happened!" said Hadji Murad.
"If thou canst not do it all in one day thou wilt finish it
another time," said Loris-Melikov.
"Shall I begin at the beginning?"
"Yes, at the very beginning... where thou wast born and where
thou didst live."
Hadji Murad's head sank and he sat in that position for a long
time. Then he took a stick that lay beside the divan, drew a little
knife with an ivory gold-inlaid handle, sharp as a razor, from under
his dagger, and started whittling the stick with it and speaking at
the same time.
"Write: Born in Tselmess, a small aoul, 'the size of an ass's
head,' as we in the mountains say," he began. "not far from it, about
two cannon-shots, lies Khunzakh where the Khans lived. Our family was
closely connected with them.
"My mother, when my eldest brother Osman was born, nursed the
eldest Khan, Abu Nutsal Khan. Then she nursed the second son of the
Khan, Umma Khan, and reared him; but Akhmet my second brother died,
and when I was born and the Khansha bore Bulach Khan, my mother would
not go as wet-nurse again. My father ordered her to, but she would
not. She said: 'I should again kill my own son, and I will not go.'
Then my father, who was passionate, struck her with a dagger and
would have killed her had they not rescued her from him. So she did
not give me up, and later on she composed a song... but I need not
"Yes, you must tell everything. It is necessary," said
Hadji Murad grew thoughtful. He remembered how his mother had
laid him to sleep beside her under a fur coat on the roof of the
saklya, and he had asked her to show him the place in her side where
the scar of her wound was still visible.
He repeated the song, which he remembered:
"My white bosom was pierced by the blade of bright steel,
But I laid my bright sun, my dear boy, close upon it
Till his body was bathed in the stream of my blood.
And the wound healed without aid of herbs or of grass.
As I feared not death, so my boy will ne'er fear it."
"My mother is now in Shamil's hands," he added, "and she must be
He remembered the fountain below the hill, when holding on to his
mother's sarovary (loose Turkish trousers) he had gone with her for
water. He remembered how she had shaved his head for the first time,
and how the reflection of his round bluish head in the shining brass
vessel that hung on the wall had astonished him. He remembered a lean
dog that had licked his face. He remembered the strange smell of the
lepeshki (a kind of flat cake) his mother had given him -- a smell of
smoke and of sour milk. He remembered how his mother had carried him
in a basket on her back to visit his grandfather at the farmstead. He
remembered his wrinkled grandfather with his grey hairs, and how he
had hammered silver with his sinewy hands.
"Well, so my mother did not go as nurse," he said with a jerk of
his head, "and the Khansha took another nurse but still remained fond
of my mother, and my mother used to take us children to the Khansha's
palace, and we played with her children and she was fond of us.
"There were three young Khans: Abu Nutsal Khan my brother Osman's
foster-brother; Umma Khan my own sworn brother; and Bulach Khan the
youngest -- whom Shamil threw over the precipice. But that happened
"I was about sixteen when murids began to visit the aouls. They
beat the stones with wooden scimitars and cried 'Mussulmans,
Ghazavat!' The Chechens all went over to Muridism and the Avars
began to go over too. I was then living in the palace like a brother
of the Khans. I could do as I liked, and I became rich. I had horses
and weapons and money. I lived for pleasure and had no care, and went
on like that till the time when Kazi-Mulla, the Imam, was killed and
Hamzad succeeded him. Hamzad sent envoys to the Khans to say that if
they did not join the Ghazavat he would destroy Khunzakh.
"This needed consideration. The Khans feared the Russians, but
were also afraid to join in the Holy War. The old Khansha sent me
with her second son, Umma Khan, to Tiflis to ask the Russian
Commander-in-Chief for help against Hamzad. The Commander-in-Chief at
Tiflis was Baron Rosen. He did not receive either me or Umma Khan.
He sent word that he would help us, but did nothing. Only his
officers came riding to us and played cards with Umma Khan. They made
him drunk with wine and took him to bad places, and he lost all he had
to them at cards. His body was as strong as a bull's and he was as
brave as a lion, but his soul was weak as water. He would have
gambled away his last horses and weapons if I had not made him come
"After visiting Tiflis my ideas changed and I advised the old
Khansha and the Khans to join the Ghazavat...."
What made you change your mind?" asked Loris-Melikov. "Were you
not pleased with the Russians?"
Hadji Murad paused.
"No, I was not pleased," he answered decidedly, closing his eyes.
"and there was also another reason why I wished to join the
"What was that?"
"Why, near Tselmess the Khan and I encountered three murids, two
of whom escaped but the third one I shot with my pistol.
"He was still alive when I approached to take his weapons. He
looked up at me, and said, 'Thou has killed me...I am happy; but thou
are a Mussulman, young and strong. Join the Ghazavat! God wills it!'"
"And did you join it?"
"I did not, but it made me think," said Hadji Murad, and he went
on with his tale.
"When Hamzad approached Kunzakh we sent our Elders to him to say
that we would agree to join the Ghazavat if the Imam would sent a
learned man to explain it to us. Hamzad had our Elders' mustaches
shaved off, their nostrils pierced, and cakes hung to their noses, and
in that condition he sent them back to us.
"The Elders brought word that Hamzad was ready to send a sheik to
teach us the Ghazavat, but only if the Khansha sent him her youngest
son as a hostage. She took him at his word and sent her youngest son,
Bulach Khan. Hamzad received him well and sent to invite the two
elder brothers also. He sent word that he wished to serve the Khans
as his father had served their father. ... The Khansha was a weak,
stupid, and conceited woman, as all women are when they are not under
control. She was afraid to send away both sons and sent only Umma
Khan. I went with him. We were met by murids about a mile before we
arrived and they sang and shot and caracoled around us, and when we
drew near, Hamzad came out of his tent and went up to Umma Khan's
stirrup and received him as a Khan. He said, 'I have not done any
harm to thy family and do not wish to do any. Only do not kill me and
do not prevent my bringing the people over to the Ghazavat, and I
will serve you with my whole army as my father served your father!
Let me live in your house and I will help you with my advice, and you
shall do as you like!'
"Umma Khan was slow of speech. He did not know how to reply and
remained silent. Then I said that if this was so, Let Hamzad come to
Khunzakh and the Khansha and the Khans would receive him with honor.
... but I was not allowed to finish -- and here I first encountered
Shamil, who was beside the Imam. He said to me, 'Thou has not been
asked.... It was the Khan!'
"I was silent, and Hamzad led Umma Khan into his tent. Afterwards
Hamzad called me and ordered me to go to Kunzakh with his envoys. I
went. The envoys began persuading the Khansha to send her eldest son
also to Hamzad. I saw there was treachery and told her not to send
him; but a woman has as much sense in her head as an egg has hair.
She ordered her son to go. Abu Nutsal Khan did not wish to. Then
she said, 'I see thou are afraid!' Like a bee she knew where to sting
him most painfully. Abu Nutsal Khan flushed and did not speak to her
any more, but ordered his horse to be saddled. I went with him.
"Hamzad met us with even greater honor than he had shown Umma
Khan. He himself rode out two rifle-shot lengths down the hill to
meet us. A large party of horsemen with their banners followed him,
and they too sang, shot, and caracoled.
"When we reached the camp, Hamzad led the Khan into his tent and I
remained with the horses....
"I was some way down the hiss when I heard shots fired in Hamzad's
tent. I ran there and saw Umma Khan lying prone in a pool of blood,
and Abu Nutsal was fighting the murids. One of his cheeks had been
hacked off and hung down. He supported it with one hand and with the
other stabbed with his dagger at all who came near him. I saw him
strike down Hamzad's brother and aim a blow at another man, but then
the murids fired at him and he fell."
Hadji Murad stopped and his sunburnt face flushed a dark red and
his eyes became bloodshot.
"I was seized with fear and ran away."
"Really?... I thought thou never wast afraid," said Loris-
"Never after that.... Since then I have always remembered that
shame, and when I recalled it I feared nothing!"
"But enough! It is time for me to pray," said Hadji Murad drawing
from an inner breast-pocket of his Circassian coat Vorontsov's
repeater watch and carefully pressing the spring. The repeater struck
twelve and a quarter. Hadji Murad listened with his head on one side,
repressing a childlike smile.
"Kunak Vorontsov's present," he said, smiling.
"It is a good watch," said Loris-Melikov. "Well then, to thou and
pray, and I will wait."
"Yakshi. Very well," said Hadji Murad and went to his bedroom.
Left by himself, Loris-Melikov wrote down in his notebook the
chief things Hadji Murad had related, and then lighting a cigarette
began to pace up and down the room. On reaching the door opposite the
bedroom he heard animated voices speaking rapidly in Tartar. He
guessed that the speakers were Hadji Murad's murids, and opening the
door he went to them.
The room was impregnated with that special leathery acid smell
peculiar to the mountaineers. On a burka spread out on the floor sat
the one-eyed, red-haired Gamzalo, in a tattered greasy beshmet,
plaiting a bridle. He was saying something excitedly, speaking in a
hoarse voice, but when Loris-Melikov entered he immediately became
silent and continued his work without paying any attention to him.
In front of Gamzalo stood the merry Khan Mahoma showing his white
teeth, his black lashless eyes glittering, and saying something over
and over again. The handsome Eldar, his sleeves turned up on his
strong arms, was polishing the girths of a saddle suspended from a
nail. Khanefi, the principal worker and manager of the household, was
not there, he was cooking their dinner in the kitchen.
"What were you disputing about?" asked Loris-Melikov after
"Why, he keeps on praising Shamil," said Khan Mahoma giving his
hand to Loris-Melikov. "He says Shamil is a great man, learned, holy,
and a dzhigit."
"How is it that he has left him and still praises him?"
"He has left him and still praises him," repeated Khan Mahoma, his
teeth showing and his eyes glittering.
"And does he really consider him a saint?" asked Loris- Melikov.
"If he were not a saint the people would not listen to him," said
"Shamil is no saint, but Mansur was!" replied Khan Mahoma. "He was
a real saint. When he was Imam the people were quite different. He
used to ride through the aouls and the people used to come out and
kiss the him of his coat and confess their sins and vow to do no evil.
Then all the people -- so the old men say -- lived like saints: not
drinking, nor smoking, nor neglecting their prayers, and forgiving one
another their sins even when blood had been spilt. If anyone then
found money or anything, he tied it to a stake and set it up by the
roadside. In those days God gave the people success in everything --
not as now."
"In the mountains they don's smoke or drink now," said Gamzalo.
"Your Shamil is a lamorey," said Khan Mahoma, winking at
Loris-Melikov. (Lamorey was a contemptuous term for a mountaineer.)
"Yes, lamorey means mountaineer," replied Gamzalo. "It is in the
mountains that the eagles dwell."
"Smart fellow! Well hit!" said Khan Mahoma with a grin, pleased
at his adversary's apt retort.
Seeing the silver cigarette-case in Loris Melikov's hand, Khan
Mahoma asked for a cigarette, and when Loris=Melikov remarked that
they were forbidden to smoke, he winded with one eye and jerking his
head in the direction of Hadji Murad's bedroom replied that they could
do it as long as they were not seen. He at once began smoking -- not
inhaling -- and pouting his red lips awkwardly as he blew out the
"That is wrong!" said Gamzalo severely, and left the room. Khan
Mahoma winked in his direction, and while smoking asked Loris-Melikov
where he could best buy a silk beshmet and a white cap.
"Why, has thou so much money?"
"I have enough," replied Khan Mahoma with a wink.
"Ask him where he got the money," said Eldar, turning his handsome
smiling face towards Loris-Melikov.
"Oh, I won it!" said Khan Mahoma quickly, and related how while
walking in Tiflis the day before he had come upon a group of men --
Russians and Armenians -- playing at orlyanka (a kind of
heads-and-tails). the stake was a large one: three gold ;pieces and
much silver. Khan Mahoma at once saw what the game consisted in, and
jingling the coppers he had in his pocket he went up to the players
and said he would stake the whole amount.
"How couldst thou do it? Hadst thou so much?" asked Loris-
"I had only twelve kopecks," said Khan Mahoma, grinning.
"But if thou hadst lost?"
"Why, this!" said Khan Mahoma pointing to his pistol.
"Wouldst thou have given that?"
"Give it indeed! I should have run away, and if anyone had tried
to stop me I should have killed him -- that's all!"
"Well, and didst thou win?"
"Aye, I won it all and went away!"
Loris-Melikov quite understood what sort of men Khan Mahoma and
Eldar were. Khan Mahoma was a merry fellow, careless and ready for
any spree. He did not know what to do with his superfluous vitality.
He was always gay and reckless, and played with his own and other
people's lives. For the sake of that sport with life he had now come
over to the Russians, and for the same sport he might go back to
Eldar was also quite easy to understand. He was a man entirely
devoted to his Murshid; calm, strong, and firm.
The red-haired Gamzalo was the only one Loris-Melikov did not
understand. He saw that that man was not only loyal to Shamil but
felt an insuperable aversion, contempt, repugnance, and hatred for all
Russians, and Loris-Melikov could therefore not understand why he had
come over to them. It occurred to him that, as some of the higher
officials suspected, Hadji Murad's surrender and his tales of hatred
of Shamil might be false, and that perhaps he had surrendered only to
spy out the Russians' weak spots that, after escaping back to the
mountains, he might be able to direct his forces accordingly.
Gamzalo's whole person strengthened this suspicion.
"The others, and Hadji Murad himself, know how to hid their
intentions, but this one betrays them by his open hatred," thought
Loris-Melikov tried to speak to him. He asked whether he did not
feel dull. "No, I don't!" he growled hoarsely without stopping his
work, and glancing at his questioner out of the corner of his one eye.
He replied to all Loris-Melikov's other questions in a similar
While Loris-Melikov was in the room Hadji Murad's fourth murid
came in, the Avar Khanefi; a man with a hairy face and neck and an
arched chest as rough as if it were overgrown with moss. He was strong
and a hard worker, always engrossed in his duties, and like Eldar
unquestioningly obedient to his master.
When he entered the room to fetch some rice, Loris-Melikov stopped
him and asked where he came from and how long he had been with Hadji
"Five years," replied Khanefi. "I come from the same aoul as he.
My father killed his uncle and they wished to kill me." he said
calmly, looking from under his joined eyebrows straight into
Loris-Melikov's face. "Then I asked them to adopt me as a brother."
"What do you mean by 'adopt as a brother'?"
"I did not shave my head nor cut my nails for two months, and then
I came to them. They let me in to Patimat, his mother, and she gave
me the breast and I became his brother."
Hadji Murad's voice could be heard from the next room and Eldar,
immediately answering his call, promptly wiped his hands and went with
large strides into the drawing room.
"He asks thee to come," said he, coming back.
Loris-Melikov gave another cigarette to the merry Khan Mahoma and
went into the drawing room.
When Loris-Melikov entered the drawing room Hadji Murad received
him with a bright face.
"Well, shall I continue?" he asked, sitting down comfortably on
"Yes, certainly," said Loris-Melikov. "I have been in to have a
talk with thy henchmen.... One is a jolly fellow!" he added.
"Yes, Khan Mahoma is a frivolous fellow," said Hadji Murad.
"I liked the young handsome one."
"Ah, that's Eldar. He's young but firm -- made of iron!"
They were silent for a while.
"So I am to on?"
"I told the how the Khans were killed.... Well, having killed
them Hamzad rode into Khunzakh and took up his quarters in their
palace. The Khansha was the only one of the family left alive.
Hamzad sent for her. She reproached him, so he winked to his murid
Aseldar, who struck her from behind and killed her."
"Why did he kill her?" asked Loris-Melikov.
"What could he do?... Where the forelegs have gone the hind legs
must follow! He killed off the whole family. Shamil killed the
youngest son -- threw him over a precipice....
"Then the whole of Avaria surrendered to Hamzad. But my brother
and I would not surrender. We wanted his blood for the blood of the
Khans. We pretended to yield, but our only thought was how to get his
blood. We consulted our grandfather and decided to await the time
when he would come out of his palace, and then to kill him from an
ambush. Someone overheard us and told Hamzad, who sent for
grandfather and said, 'Mind, if it be true that thy grandsons are
planning evil against me, thou and they shall hang from one rafter. I
do God's work and cannot be hindered.... To, and remember what I have
"Our grandfather came home and told us.
"Then we decided not to wait but to do the deed on the first day
of the feast in the mosque. Our comrades would not take part in it
but my brother and I remained firm.
"We took two pistols each, put on our burkas, and went to the
mosque. Hamzad entered the mosque with thirty murids. They all had
drawn swords in their hands. Aseldar, his favorite murid (the one who
had cut off Khansha's head), saw us, shouted to us to take off our
burkas, and came towards me. I had my dagger in my hand and I killed
him with it and rushed at Hamzad; but my brother Osman had already
shot him. He was still alive and rushed at my brother dagger in hand,
but I have him a finishing blow on the head. There were thirty murids
and we were only two. They killed my brother Osman, but I kept them at
bay, leapt through the window, and escaped.
"When it was known that Hamzad had been killed all the people
rose. The murids fled and those of them who did not flee were
Hadji Murad paused, and breathed heavily.
"That was very good," he continued, "but afterwards everything was
"Shamil succeeded Hamzad. He sent envoys to me to say that I
should join him in attacking the Russians, and that if I refused he
would destroy Kunzakh and kill me.
"I answered that I would not join him and would not let him come
"Why didst thou not go with him?" asked Loris-Melikov.
Hadji Murad frowned and did not reply at once.
"I could not. The blood of my brother Osman and of Abu Nutsal
Khan was on his hands. I did not go to him. General Rosen sent me an
officer's commission and ordered me to govern Avaria. All this would
have been well, but that Rosen appointed as Khan of Kazi-Kumukh, first
Mahomet-Murza, and afterwards Akhmet Khan, who hated me. He had been
trying to get the Khansha's daughter, Sultanetta, in marriage for his
son, but she would not giver her to him, and he believed me to be the
cause of this.... Yes, Akhmet Khan hated me and sent his henchmen to
kill me, but I escaped from them. Then he spoke ill of me to General
Klugenau. He said that I told the Avars not to supply wood to the
Russian soldiers, and he also said that I had donned a turban -- this
one" (Hadji Murad touched his turban) "and that this meant that I had
gone over to Shamil. The general did not believe him and gave orders
that I should not be touched. But when the general went to Tiflis,
Akhmet Khan did as he pleased. He sent a company of soldiers to seize
me, put me in chains, and tied me to a cannon.
"So they kept me six days," he continued. "On the seventh day
they untied me and started to take me to Temir-Khan-Shura. Forty
soldiers with loaded guns had me in charge. My hands were tied and I
knew that they had orders to kill me if I tried to escape.
"As we approached Mansokha the path became narrow, and on the
right was an abyss about a hundred and twenty yards deep. I went to
the right -- to the very edge. A soldier wanted to stop me, but I
jumped down and pulled him with me. He was killed outright but I, as
you see, remained alive.
"Ribs, head, arms, and leg -- all were broken! I tried to crawl
but grew giddy and fell asleep. I awoke wet with blood. A shepherd
saw me and called some people who carried me to an aoul. My ribs and
head healed, and my leg too, only it has remained short," and Hadji
Murad stretched out his crooked leg. "It still serves me, however,
and that is well," said he.
"The people heard the news and began coming to me. I recovered
and went to Tselmess. The Avars again called on me to rule over
them," he went on, with tranquil, confident pride, "and I agreed."
He rose quickly and taking a portfolio out of a saddlebag, drew
out two discolored letters and handed one of them to Loris- Melikov.
They were from General Klugenau. Loris-Melikov read the first
letter, which was as follows:
"Lieutenant Hadji Murad, thou has served under me and I was
satisfied with thee and considered thee a good man.
"Recently Akhmet Khan informed me that thou are a traitor, that
thou has donned a turban and has intercourse with Shamil, and that
thou has taught the people to disobey the Russian Government. I
ordered thee to be arrested and brought before me but thou fledst. I
do not know whether this is for thy good or not, as I do not know
whether thou art guilty or not.
"Now hear me. If thy conscience is pure, if thou are not guilty
in anything towards the great Tsar, come to me, fear no one. I am thy
defender. The Khan can do nothing to thee, he is himself under my
command, so thou has nothing to fear."
Klugenau added that he always kept his word and was just, and he
again exhorted Hadji Murad to appear before him.
When Loris-Melikov had read this letter Hadji Murad, before
handing him the second one, told him what he had written in reply to
"I wrote that I wore a turban not for Shamil's sake but for my
soul's salvation; that I neither wished nor could go over to Shamil,
because he had cause the death of my father, my brothers, and my
relations; but that I could not join the Russians because I had been
dishonored by them. (In Khunzakh, a scoundrel had spat on me while I
was bound, and I could not join your people until that man was
killed.) But above all I feared that liar, Akhmet Khan.
"Then the general sent me this letter," said Hadji Murad, handing
Loris-Melikov the other discolored paper.
"Thou has answered my first letter and I thank thee," read
Loris-Melikov. "Thou writest that thou are not afraid to return but
that the insult done thee by a certain giarou prevents it, but I
assure thee that the Russian law is just and that thou shalt see him
who dared to offend thee punished before thine eyes. I have already
given orders to investigate the matter.
"Hear me, Hadji Murad! I have a right to be displeased with thee
for not trusting me and my honor, but I forgive thee, for I know how
suspicious mountaineers are in general. If thy conscience is pure, if
thou hast put on a turban only for they soul's salvation, then thou
art right and mayst look me and the Russian Government boldly in the
eye. He who dishonored thee shall, I assure thee, be punished and thy
property shall be restored to thee, and thou shalt see and know what
Russian law is. Moreover we Russians look at things differently, and
thou hast not sunk in our eyes because some scoundrel has dishonored
"I myself have consented to the Chimrints wearing turbans, and I
regard their actions in the right light, and therefore I repeat that
thou hast nothing to fear. Come to me with the man by whom I am
sending thee this letter. He is faithful to me and is not the slave
of thy enemies, but is the friend of a man who enjoys the special
favor of the Government."
Further on Klugenau again tried to persuade Hadji Murad to come
over to him.
"I did not believe him," said Hadji Murad when Loris-Melikov had
finished reading, "and did not go to Klugenau. The chief thing for me
was to revenge myself on Akhmet Khan, and that I could not do through
the Russians. Then Akhmet Khan surrounded Tselmess and wanted to take
me or kill me. I had too few men and could not drive him off, and
just then came an envoy with a letter from Shamil promising to help me
to defeat and kill Akhmet Khan and making me ruler over the whole of
Avaria. I considered the matter for a long time and then went over to
Shamil, and from that time I have fought the Russians continually."
Here Hadji Murad related all his military exploits, of which there
were very many and some of which were already familiar to
Loris-Melikov. all his campaigns and raids had been remarkable for
the extraordinary rapidity of his movements and the boldness of his
attacks, which were always crowned with success.
"There never was any friendship between me and Shamil," said Hadji
Murad at the end of his story, "but he feared me and needed me. But
it so happened that I was asked who should be Imam after Shamil, and I
replied: 'He will be Imam whose sword is sharpest!'
"This was told to Shamil and he wanted to get rid of me. He sent
me into Tabasaran. I went, and captured a thousand sheep and three
hundred horses, but he said I had not done the right thing and
dismissed me from being Naib, and ordered me to send him all the
money. I sent him a thousand gold pieces. He sent his murids and
they took from me all my property. He demanded that I should go to
him, but I knew he wanted to kill me and I did not go. Then he sent
to take me. I resisted and went over to Vorontsov. Only I did not
take my family. My mother, my wives, and my son are in his hands.
Tell the Sirdar that as long as my family is in Shamil's power I can
"I will tell him," said Loris-Melikov.
"Take pains, try hard!.... What is mine is thine, only help me
with the Prince. I am tied up and the end of the rope is in Shamil's
hands," said Hadji Murad concluding his story.
On the 20th of December Vorontsov wrote to Chernyshov, the
Minister of War. The letter was in French:
"I did not write to you by the last post, dear Prince, as I wished
first to decide what we should do with Hadji Murad, and for the last
two or three days I have not been feeling quite well.
"In my last letter I informed you of Hadji Murad's arrival here.
He reached Tiflis on the 8th, and next day I made his acquaintance,
and during the following seven or eight days have spoken to him and
considered what use we can make of him in the future, and especially
what we are to do with him at present, for he is much concerned about
the fate of his family, and with every appearance of perfect frankness
says that while they are in Shamil's hands he is paralysed and cannot
render us any service or show his gratitude for the friendly reception
and forgiveness we have extended to him.
"His uncertainty about those dear to him makes him restless, and
the persons I have appointed to live with him assure me that he does
not sleep at night, eats hardly anything, prays continually, and asks
only to be allowed to ride out accompanied by several Cossacks -- the
sole recreation and exercise possible for him and made necessary to
him by life-long habit. Every day he comes to me to know whether I
have any news of his family, and to ask me to have all the prisoners
in our hands collected and offered to Shamil in exchange for them. He
would also give a little money. There are people who would let him
have some for the purpose. He keeps repeating to me: 'Save my family
and then give me a chance to serve thee' (preferably, in his opinion,
on the Lesghian line), 'and if within a month I do not render you
great service, punish me as you think fit.' I reply that to me all
this appears very just, and that many among us would even not trust
him so long as his family remain in the mountains and are not in our
hands as hostages, and that I will do everything possible to collect
the prisoners on our frontier, that I have no power under our laws to
give him money for the ransom of his family in addition to the sum he
may himself be able to raise, but that I may perhaps find some other
means of helping him. After that I told him frankly that in my opinion
Shamil would not in any case give up the family, and that Shamil might
tell him so straight out and promise him a full pardon and his former
posts, and might threaten if Hadji Murad did not return, to kill his
mother, his wives, and his six children. I asked him whether he
could say frankly what he would do if he received such an
announcement from Shamil. He lifted his eyes and arms to heaven, and
said that everything is in God's hands, but that he would never
surrender to his foe, for he is certain Shamil would not forgive him
and he would therefore not have long to live. As to the destruction
of his family, he did not think Shamil would act so rashly: firstly,
to avoid making him a yet more desperate and dangerous foe, and
secondly, because there were many people, and even very influential
people, in Daghestan, who would dissuade Shamil from such a course.
Finally, he repeated several times that whatever God might decree for
him in the future, he was at present interested in nothing but his
family's ransom, and he implored me in God's name to help him and
allow him to return to the neighborhood of the Chechnya, where he
could, with the help and consent of our commanders, have some
intercourse with his family and regular news of their condition and of
the best means to liberate them. He said that many people, and even
some Naibs in that part of the enemy's territory, were more or less
attached to him and that among the whole of the population already
subjugated by Russia or neutral it would be easy with our help to
establish relations very useful for the attainment of the aim which
gives him no peace day or night, and the attainment of which would set
him at ease and make it possible for him to act for our good and win
"He asks to be sent back to Grozny with a convoy of twenty or
thirty picked Cossacks who would serve him as a protection against
foes and us as a guarantee of his good faith.
"You will understand, dear Prince, that I have been much perplexed
by all this, for do what I will a great responsibility rests on me.
It would be in the highest degree rash to trust him entirely, yet in
order to deprive him of all means of escape we should have to lock him
up, and in my opinion that would be both unjust and impolitic. A
measure of that kind, the news of which would soon spread over the
whole of Daghestan, would do us great harm by keeping back those who
are now inclined more or less openly to oppose Shamil (and there are
many such), and who are keenly watching to see how we treat the Imam's
bravest and most adventurous officer now that he has found himself
obliged to place himself in our hands. If we treat Hadji Murad as a
prisoner all the good effect of the situation will be lost. Therefore
I think that I could not act otherwise than as I have done, though at
the same time I feel that I may be accused of having made a great
mistake if Hadji Murad should take it into his head to escape again.
In the service, and especially in a complicated situation such as
this, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to follow any one
straight path without risking mistakes and without accepting
responsibility, but once a path seems to be the right one I must
follow it, happen what may.
"I beg of you, dear Prince, to submit this to his Majesty the
Emperor for his consideration; and I shall be happy if it pleases our
most august monarch to approve my action.
"All that I have written above I have also written to Generals
Zavodovsky and Kozlovsky, to guide the latter when communicating
direct with Hadji Murad whom I have warned not to act or go anywhere
without Kozlovsky's consent. I also told him that it would be all the
better of us if he rode out with our convoy, as otherwise Shamil might
spread a rumor that we were keeping him prisoner, but at the same time
I made him promise never to go to Vozdvizhensk, because my son, to
whom he first surrendered and whom he looks upon as his kunak
(friend), is not the commander of that place and some unpleasant
misunderstanding might easily arise. In any case Vozdvizhensk lies too
near a thickly populated hostile settlement, which for the intercourse
with his friends which he desires, Grozny is in all respects
"Besides the twenty chosen Cossacks who at his own request are to
keep close to him, I am also sending Captain Loris-Melikov -- a
worthy, excellent, and highly intelligence officer who speaks Tartar,
and knows Hadji Murad well and apparently enjoys his full confidence.
During the ten days that Hadji Murad has spent here, he has, however,
lived in the same house with Lieutenant-Colonel Prince Tarkhanov, who
is in command of the shoushin District and is here on business
connected with the service. He is a truly worthy man whom I trust
entirely. He also has won Hadji Murad's confidence, and through him
alone -- as he speaks Tartar perfectly -- we have discussed the most
delicate and secret matters. I have consulted Tarkhanov about Hadji
Murad, and he fully agrees with me that it was necessary either to act
as I have done, or to put Hadji Murad in prison and guard him in the
strictest manner (for if we once treat him badly he will not be easy
to hold), or else to remove him from the country altogether. But
these two last measures would not only destroy all the advantage
accruing to us from Hadji Murad's quarrel with Shamil, but would
inevitably check any growth of the present insubordination, and
possible future revolt, of the people against Shamil's power. Prince
Tarkhanov tells me he himself has no doubt of Hadji Murad's
truthfulness, and that Hadji Murad is convinced that Shamil will never
forgive him but would have him executed in spite of any promise of
forgiveness. The only thing Tarkhanov has noticed in his intercourse
with Hadji Murad that might cause any anxiety, is his attachment to
his religion. Tarkhanov does not deny that Shamil might influence
Hadji Murad from that side. But as I have already said, he will never
persuade Hadji Murad that he will not take his life sooner or later
should the latter return to him.
"This, dear Prince, is all I have to tell you about this episode
in our affairs here."
The report was dispatched from Tiflis on the 24th of December
1851, and on New Year's Eve a courier, having overdriven a dozen
horses and beaten a dozen drivers till they bled, delivered it to
Prince Chernyshov who at that time was Minister of War; and on the 1st
of January 1852 Chernyshov took Vorontsov's report, among other
papers, to the Emperor Nicholas.
Chernyshov disliked Vorontsov because of the general respect in
which the latter was held and because of his immense wealth, and also
because Vorontsov was a real aristocrat while Chernyshov, after all,
was a parvenu, but especially because the Emperor was particularly
well disposed towards Vorontsov. Therefore at every opportunity
Chernyshov tried to injure Vorontsov.
When he had last presented the report about Caucasian affairs he
had succeeded in arousing Nicholas's displeasure against Vorontsov
because -- through the carelessness of those in command -- almost the
whole of a small Caucasian detachment had been destroyed by the
mountaineers. He now intended to present the steps taken by Vorontsov
in relation to Hadji Murad in an unfavorable light. He wished to
suggest to the Emperor that Vorontsov always protected and even
indulged the natives to the detriment of the Russians, and that he had
acted unwisely in allowing Hadji Murad to remain in the Caucasus for
there was every reason to suspect that he had only come over to spy on
our means of defense, and that it would therefore be better to
transport him to Central Russia and make use of him only after his
family had been rescued from the mountaineers and it had become
possible to convince ourselves of his loyalty.
Chernyshov's plan did not succeed merely because on that New
Year's Day Nicholas was in particularly bad spirits, and out of
perversity would not have accepted any suggestion whatever from
anyone, least of all from Chernyshov whom he only tolerated --
regarding him as indispensable for the time being but looking upon
him as a blackguard, for Nicholas knew of his endeavors at the trial
of the Decembrists to secure the conviction of Zachary Chernyshov, and
of his attempt to obtain Zachary's property for himself. So thanks to
Nicholas's ill temper Hadji Murad remained in the Caucasus, and his
circumstances were not changed as they might have been had Chernyshov
presented his report at another time.
* * *
It was half-past nine o'clock when through the mist of the cold
morning (the thermometer showed 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit)
Chernyshov's fat, bearded coachman, sitting on the box of a small
sledge (like the one Nicholas drove about in) with a sharp-angled,
cushion-shaped azure velvet cap on his head, drew up at the entrance
of the Winter Palace and gave a friendly nod to his chum, Prince
Dolgoruky's coachman -- who having brought his master to the palace
had himself long been waiting outside, in his big coat with the
thickly wadded skirts, sitting on the reins and rubbing his numbed
hands together. Chernyshov had on a long cloak with a large cap and a
fluffy collar of silver beaver, and a regulation three-cornered had
with cocks' feathers. He threw back the bearskin apron of the sledge
and carefully disengaged his chilled feet, on which he had no
over-shoes (he prided himself on never wearing any). Clanking his
spurs with an air of bravado he ascended the carpeted steps and passed
through the hall door which was respectfully opened for him by the
porter, and entered the hall. Having thrown off his cloak which an
old Court lackey hurried forward to take, he went to a mirror and
carefully removed the hat from his curled wig. Looking at himself in
the mirror, he arranged the hair on his temples and the tuft above his
forehead with an accustomed movement of his old hands, and adjusted
his cross, the shoulder-knots of his uniform, and his large-initialled
epaulets, and then went up the gently ascending carpeted stairs, his
not very reliable old legs feebly mounting the shallow steps. Passing
the Court lackeys in gala livery who stood obsequiously bowing,
Chernyshov entered the waiting-room. He was respectfully met by a
newly appointed aide- de-camp of the Emperor's in a shining new
uniform with epaulets and shoulder-knots, whose face was still fresh
and rosy and who had a small black mustache, and the hair on his
temples brushed towards his eyes in the same way as the Emperor.
Prince Vasili Dolgoruky, Assistant-Minister of War, with an
expression of ennui on his dull face -- which was ornamented with
similar whiskers, mustaches, and temple tufts brushed forward like
Nicholas's -- greeted him.
"L'empereur?" said Chernyshov, addressing the aide-de-camp and
looking inquiringly towards the door leading to the cabinet.
"Sa majeste vient de rentrer," replied the aide-de-camp, evidently
enjoying the sound of his own voice, and stepping so softly and
steadily that had a tumbler of water been placed on his head none of
it would have been spilt, he approached the door and disappeared, his
whole body evincing reverence for the spot he was about to visit.
Dolgoruky meanwhile opened his portfolio to see that it contained
the necessary papers, while Chernyshov, frowning, paced up and down to
restore the circulation in his numbed feet, and thought over what he
was about to report to the Emperor. He was near the door of the
cabinet when it opened again and the aide- de-camp, even more radiant
and respectful than before, came out and with a gesture invited the
minister and his assistant to enter.
The Winter Palace had been rebuilt after a fire some considerable
time before this, but Nicholas was still occupying rooms in the upper
story. The cabinet in which he received the reports of his ministers
and other high officials was a very lofty apartment with four large
windows. A big portrait of the Emperor Alexander I hung on the front
side of the room. Two bureaux stood between the windows, and several
chairs were ranged along the walls. IN the middle of the room was an
enormous writing table and an arm chair before it for Nicholas, and
other chairs for those to whom he gave audience.
Nicholas sat at the table in a black coat with shoulder- straps
but no epaulets, his enormous body -- with his overgrown stomach
tightly laced in -- was thrown back, and he gazed at the newcomers
with fixed, lifeless eyes. His long pale face, with its enormous
receding forehead between the tufts of hair which were brushed forward
and skillfully joined to the wig that covered his bald patch, was
specially cold and stony that day. His eyes, always dim, looked duller
than usual, the compressed lips under his upturned mustaches, the high
collar which supported his chin, and his fat freshly shaven cheeks on
which symmetrical sausage-shaped bits of whiskers had been left, gave
his face a dissatisfied and even irate expression. His bad mood was
caused by fatigue, due to the fact that he had been to a masquerade
the night before, and while walking about as was his wont in his Horse
Guards' uniform with a bird on the helmet, among the public which
crowded round and timidly made way for his enormous, self-assured
figure, he had again met the mask who at the previous masquerade had
aroused his senile sensuality by her whiteness, her beautiful figure,
and her tender voice. At that former masquerade she had disappeared
after promising to meet him at the next one.
At yesterday's masquerade she had come up to him, and this time he
had not let her go, but had led her to the box specially kept ready
for that purpose, where he could be alone with her. Having arrived in
silence at the door of the box Nicholas looked round to find the
attendant, but he was not there. He frowned and pushed the door open
himself, letting the lady enter first.
"Il y a quelq'un!" said the mask, stopping short.
And the box actually was occupied. On the small velvet- covered
sofa, close together, sat an Uhlan officer and a pretty, fair
curly-haired young woman in a domino, who had removed her mask. On
catching sight of the angry figure of Nicholas drawn up to its full
height, she quickly replaced her mask, but the Uhlan officer, rigid
with fear, gazed at Nicholas with fixed eyes without rising from the
Used as he was to the terror he inspired in others, that terror
always pleased Nicholas, and by way of contrast he sometimes liked to
astound those plunged in terror by addressing kindly words to them.
He did so on this occasion.
"Well, friend!" said he to the officer, "You are younger than I
and might give up your place to me."
The officer jumped to his feet, and growing first pale and then
red and bending almost double, he followed his partner silently out of
the box, leaving Nicholas alone with his lady.
She proved to be a pretty, twenty-year-old virgin, the daughter of
a Swedish governess. She told Nicholas how when quite a child she had
fallen in love with him from his portraits; how she adored him and had
made up her mind to attract his attention at any cost. Now she had
succeeded and wanted nothing more -- so she said.
The girl was taken to the place where Nicholas usually had
rendezvous with women, and there he spent more than an hour with her.
When he returned to his room that night and lay on the hard narrow
bed about which he prided himself, and covered himself with the cloak
which he considered to be (and spoke of as being) as famous as
Napoleon's hat, it was a long time before he could fall asleep. He
thought now of the frightened and elated expression on that girl's
fair face, and now of the full, powerful shoulders of his established
mistress, Nelidova, and he compared the two. That profligacy in a
married man was a bad thing did not once enter his head, and he would
have been greatly surprised had anyone censured him for it. Yet
though convinced that he had acted rightly, some kind of unpleasant
after-taste remained, and to stifle that feeling he dwelt on a thought
that always tranquilized him -- the thought of his own greatness.
Though he had fallen asleep so late, he rose before eight, and
after attending to his toilet in the usual way -- rubbing his big
well-fed body all over with ice -- and saying his prayers (repeating
those he had been used to from childhood -- the prayer to the Virgin,
the apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, without attaching any kind
of meaning to the words he uttered), he went out through the smaller
portico of the palace onto the embankment in his military cloak and
On the embankment he met a student in the uniform of the School of
Jurisprudence, who was as enormous as himself. On recognizing the
uniform of that school, which he disliked for its freedom of thought,
Nicholas frowned, but the stature of the student and the painstaking
manner in which he drew himself up and saluted, ostentatiously
sticking out his elbow, mollified his displeasure.
"Your name?" said he.
"Polosatov, your Imperial Majesty."
The student continued to stand with his hand lifted to his hat.
"Do you wish to enter the army?"
"Not at all, your Imperial Majesty."
"Blockhead!" And Nicholas turned away and continued his walk, and
began uttering aloud the first words that came into his head.
"Kopervine...Kopervine -- " he repeated several times (it was the
name of yesterday's girl). "Horrid... horrid -- " He did not think
of what he was saying, but stifled his feelings by listening to the
"Yes, what would Russia be without me?" said he, feeling his
former dissatisfaction returning. "What would -- not Russia alone
but Europe be, without me?" and calling to mind the weakness and
stupidity of his brother-in-law the King of Prussia, he shook his
As he was returning to the small portico, he saw the carriage of
Helena Pavlovna, with a red-liveried footman, approaching the Saltykov
entrance of the palace.
Helena Pavlovna was to him the personification of that futile
class of people who discussed not merely science and poetry, but even
the ways of governing men: imagining that they could govern
themselves better than he, Nicholas, governed them! He knew that
however much he crushed such people they reappeared again and again,
and he recalled his brother, Michael Pavlovich, who had died not long
before. A feeling of sadness and vexation came over him and with a
dark frown he again began whispering the first words that came into
his head, which he only ceased doing when he re-entered the palace.
On reaching his apartments he smoothed his whiskers and the hair
on his temples and the wig on his bald patch, and twisted his
mustaches upwards in front of the mirror, and then went straight to
the cabinet in which he received reports.
He first received Chernyshov, who at once saw by his face, and
especially by his eyes, that Nicholas was in a particularly bad humor
that day, and knowing about the adventure of the night before he
understood the cause. Having coldly greeted him and invited him to
sit down, Nicholas fixed on him a lifeless gaze. The first matter
Chernyshov reported upon was a case of embezzlement by commissariat
officials which had just been discovered; the next was the movement of
troops on the Prussian frontier; then came a list of rewards to be
given at the New Year to some people omitted from a former list; then
Vorontsov's report about Hadji Murad; and lastly some unpleasant
business concerning an attempt by a student of the Academy of Medicine
on the life of a professor.
Nicholas heard the report of the embezzlement silently with
compressed lips, his large white hand -- with one ring on the fourth
finger -- stroking some sheets of paper, and his eyes steadily fixed
on Chernyshov's forehead and on the tuft of hair above it.
Nicholas was convinced that everybody stole. He knew he would
have to punish the commissariat officials now, and decided to send
them all to serve in the ranks, but he also knew that this would not
prevent those who succeeded them from acting in the same way. It was
a characteristic of officials to steal, but it was his duty to punish
them for doing so, and tired as he was of that duty he conscientiously
"It seems there is only one honest man in Russia!" said he.
Chernyshov at once understood that this one honest man was
Nicholas himself, and smiled approvingly.
"It looks like it, your Imperial Majesty," said he.
"Leave it -- I will give a decision," said Nicholas, taking the
document and putting it on the left side of the table.
Then Chernyshov reported the rewards to be given and about moving
the army on the Prussian frontier.
Nicholas looked over the list and struck out some names, and then
briefly and firmly gave orders to move two divisions to the Prussian
frontier. He could not forgive the King of Prussia for granting a
Constitution to his people after the events of 1848, and therefore
while expressing most friendly feelings to his brother-in-law in
letters and conversation, he considered it necessary to keep an army
near the frontier in case of need. He might want to use these troops
to defend his brother-in-law's throne if the people of Prussia
rebelled (Nicholas saw a readiness for rebellion everywhere) as he had
used troops to suppress the rising in Hungary a few years previously.
they were also of use to give more weight and influence to such
advice as he gave to the King of Prussia.
"Yes -- what would Russia be like now if it were not for me?" he
"Well, what else is there?" said he.
"A courier from the Caucasus," said Chernyshov, and he reported
what Vorontsov had written about Hadji Murad's surrender.
"Well, well!" said Nicholas. "It's a good beginning!"
"Evidently the plan devised by your Majesty begins to bear fruit,"
this approval of his strategic talents was particularly pleasant
to Nicholas because, though he prided himself upon them, at the bottom
of his heart he knew that they did not really exist, and he now
desired to hear more detailed praise of himself.
"How do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean that if your Majesty's plans had been adopted before, and
we had moved forward slowly and steadily, cutting down forests and
destroying the supplies of food, the Caucasus would have been
subjugated long ago. I attribute Hadji Murad's surrender entirely to
his having come to the conclusion that they can hold out no longer."
"True," said Nicholas.
Although the plan of a gradual advance into the enemy's territory
by means of felling forests and destroying the food supplies was
Ermolov's and Velyaminov's plan, and was quite contrary to Nicholas's
own plan of seizing Shamil's place of residence and destroying that
nest of robbers -- which was the plan on which the dargo expedition in
1845 (that cost so many lives) had been undertaken -- Nicholas
nevertheless attributed to himself also the plan of a slow advance and
a systematic felling of forests and devastation of the country. It
would seem that to believe the plan of a slow movement by felling
forests and destroying food supplies to have been his own would have
necessitated hiding the fact that he had insisted on quite contrary
operations in 1845. But he did not hide it and was proud of the plan
of the 1845 expedition as well as of the plan of a slow advance --
though the two were obviously contrary to one another. Continual
brazen flattery from everybody round him in the teeth of obvious facts
had brought him to such a state that he no longer saw his own
inconsistencies or measured his actions and words by reality, logic,
or even simple common sense; but was quite convinced that all his
orders, however senseless, unjust, and mutually contradictory they
might be, became reasonable, just, and mutually accordant simply
because he gave them. His decision in the case next reported to him
-- that of the student of the Academy of Medicine -- was of the that
The case was as follows: A young man who had twice failed in his
examinations was being examined a third time, and when the examiner
again would not pass him, the young man whose nerves were deranged,
considering this to be an injustice, seized a pen- knife from the
table in a paroxysm of fury, and rushing at the professor inflicted on
him several trifling wounds.
"What's his name?" asked Nicholas.
"Of Polish descent and a roman Catholic," answered Chernyshov.
Nicholas frowned. He had done much evil to the Poles. To justify
that evil he had to feel certain that all Poles were rascals, and he
considered them to be such and hated them in proportion to the evil he
had done them.
"Wait a little," he said, closing his eyes and bowing his head.
Chernyshov, having more than once heard Nicholas say so, knew that
when the Emperor had to take a decision it was only necessary for him
to concentrate his attention for a few moments and the spirit moved
him, and the best possible decision presented itself as though an
inner voice had told him what to do. He was now thinking how most
fully to satisfy the feeling of hatred against the Poles which this
incident had stirred up within him, and the inner voice suggested the
following decision. He took the report and in his large handwriting
wrote on its margin with three orthographical mistakes:
"Diserves deth, but, thank God, we have no capitle punishment, and
it is not for me to introduce it. Make him fun the gauntlet of a
thousand men twelve times. -- Nicholas."
He signed, adding his unnaturally huge flourish.
Nicholas knew that twelve thousand strokes with the regulation
rods were not only certain death with torture, but were a superfluous
cruelty, for five thousand strokes were sufficient to kill the
strongest man. But it pleased him to be ruthlessly cruel and it also
pleased him to think that we have abolished capital punishment in
Having written his decision about the student, he pushed it across
"There," he said, "read it."
Chernyshov read it, and bowed his head as a sign of respectful
amazement at the wisdom of the decision.
"Yes, and let all the students be present on the drill- ground at
the punishment," added Nicholas.
"It will do them good! I will abolish this revolutionary spirit
and will tear it up by the roots!" he thought.
"It shall be done," replied Chernyshov; and after a short pause he
straightened the tuft on his forehead and returned to the Caucasian
"What do you command me to write in reply to Prince Vorontsov's
"To keep firmly to my system of destroying the dwellings and food
supplies in Chechnya and to harass them by raids." answered Nicholas.
"And what are your Majesty's commands with reference to Hadji
Murad?" asked Chernyshov.
"Well, Vorontsov writes that he wants to make use of him in the
"Is it not dangerous?" said Chernyshov, avoiding Nicholas's gaze.
"Prince Vorontsov is too confiding, I am afraid."
"And you -- what do you think?" asked Nicholas sharply, detecting
Chernyshov's intention of presenting Vorontsov's decision in an
"Well, I should have thought it would be safer to deport him to
"You would have thought!" said Nicholas ironically. "But I don't
think so, and agree with Vorontsov. Write to him accordingly."
"It shall be done," said Chernyshov, rising and bowing himself
Dolgoruky also bowed himself out, having during the whole audience
only uttered a few words (in reply to a question from Nicholas) about
the movement of the army.
After Chernyshov, Nicholas received Bibikov, General- Governor of
the Western Provinces. Having expressed his approval of the measures
taken by Bibikov against the mutinous peasants who did not wish to
accept the orthodox Faith, he ordered him to have all those who did
not submit tried by court-martial. that was equivalent to sentencing
them to run the gauntlet. He also ordered the editor of a newspaper
to be sent to serve in the ranks of the army for publishing
information about the transfer of several thousand State peasants to
the imperial estates.
"I do this because I consider it necessary," said Nicholas, "and I
will not allow it to be discussed."
Bibikov saw the cruelty of the order concerning the Uniate
peasants and the injustice of transferring State peasants (the only
free peasants in Russia in those days) to the Crown, which meant
making them serfs of the Imperial family. But it was impossible to
express dissent. Not to agree with Nicholas's decisions would have
meant the loss of that brilliant position which it had cost Bibikov
forty years to attain and which he now enjoyed; and he therefore
submissively bowed his dark head (already touched with grey) to
indicate his submission and his readiness to fulfil the cruel,
insensate, and dishonest supreme will.
Having dismissed Bibikov, Nicholas stretched himself, with a sense
of duty well fulfilled, glanced at the clock, and went to get ready to
go out. Having put on a uniform with epaulets, orders, and a ribbon,
he went out into the reception hall where more than a hundred persons
-- men in uniforms and women in elegant low-necked dresses, all
standing in the places assigned to them -- awaited his arrival with
He came out to them with a lifeless look in his eyes, his chest
expanded, his stomach bulging out above and below its bandages, and
feeling everybody's gaze tremulously and obsequiously fixed upon him
he assumed an even more triumphant air. When his eyes met those of
people he knew, remembering who was who, he stopped and addressed a
few words to them sometimes in Russian and sometimes in French, and
transfixing them with his cold glassy eye listened to what they said.
Having received all the New year congratulations he passed on to
church, where God, through His servants the priests, greeted and
praised Nicholas just as worldly people did; and weary as he was of
these greetings and praises Nicholas duly accepted them. All this was
as it should be, because the welfare and happiness of the whole world
depended on him, and wearied though he was he would still not refuse
the universe his assistance.
When at the end of the service the magnificently arrayed deacon,
his long hair crimped and carefully combed, began the chant "Many
Years," which was heartily caught up by the splendid choir, Nicholas
looked round and noticed Nelidova, with her fine shoulders, standing
by a window, and he decided the comparison with yesterday's girl in
After Mass he went to the empress and spent a few minutes in the
bosom of his family, joking with the children and his wife. then
passing through the Hermitage, he visited the Minister of the Court,
Volkonski, and among other things ordered him to pay out of a special
fund a yearly pension to the mother of yesterday's girl. From there
he went for his customary drive.
Dinner that day was served in the Pompeian Hall. Besides the
younger sons of Nicholas and Michael there were also invited Baron
Lieven, Count Rzhevski, Dolgoruky, the Prussian Ambassador, and the
King of Prussia's aide-de-camp.
While waiting for the appearance of the Emperor and Empress an
interesting conversation took place between Baron Lieven and the
Prussian Ambassador concerning the disquieting news from Poland.
"La Pologne et le Caucases, ce sont les deux cauteres de la
Russie," said Lieven. "Il nous faut dent mille hommes a peu pres,
dans chcun de ces deux pays."
The Ambassador expressed a fictitious surprise that it should be
"Vous dites, la Pologne -- " began the Ambassador.
"Oh, oui, c'etait un coup de maitre de Metternich de nous en avoir
laisse l'embarras.... "
At this point the Empress, with her trembling head and fixed
smile, entered followed by Nicholas.
At dinner Nicholas spoke of Hadji Murad's surrender and said that
the war in the Caucasus must now soon come to an end in consequence of
the measures he was taking to limit the scope of the mountaineers by
felling their forests and by his system of erecting a series of small
The Ambassador, having exchanged a rapid glance with the
aide-de-camp -- to whom he had only that morning spoken about
Nicholas's unfortunate weakness for considering himself a great
strategist -- warmly praised this plan which once more demonstrated
Nicholas's great strategic ability.
After dinner Nicholas drove to the ballet where hundreds of women
marched round in tights and scanty clothing. One of the specially
attracted him, and he had the German ballet-master sent for and gave
orders that a diamond ring should be presented to her.
The next day when Chernyshov came with his report, Nicholas again
confirmed his order to Vorontsov -- that now that Hadji Murad had
surrendered, the Chechens should be more actively harassed than ever
and the cordon round them tightened.
Chernyshov wrote in that sense to Vorontsov; and another courier,
overdriving more horses and bruising the faces of more drivers,
galloped to Tiflis.
In obedience to this command of Nicholas a raid was immediately
made in Chechnya that same month, January 1852.
The detachment ordered for the raid consisted of four infantry
battalions, two companies of Cossacks, and eight guns. The column
marched along the road; and on both sides of it in a continuous line,
now mounting, now descending, marched Fagers in high boots, sheepskin
coats, and tall caps, with rifles on their shoulders and cartridges in
As usual when marching through a hostile country, silence was
observed as far as possible. Only occasionally the guns jingled
jolting across a ditch, or an artillery horse snorted or neighed, not
understanding that silence was ordered, or an angry commander shouted
in a hoarse subdued voice to his subordinates that the line was
spreading out too much or marching too near or too far from the
column. Only once was the silence broken, when from a bramble patch
between the line and the column a gazelle with a white breast and grey
back jumped out followed by a buck of the same color with small
backward-curving horns. Doubling up their forelegs at each big bound
they took, the beautiful timid creatures came so close to the column
that some of the soldiers rushed after them laughing and shouting,
intending to bayonet them, but the gazelles turned back, slipped
through the line of Fagers, and pursued by a few horsemen and the
company's dogs, fled like birds to the mountains.
It was still winter, but towards noon, when the column (which had
started early in the morning) had gone three miles, the sun had risen
high enough and was powerful enough to make the men quite hot, and its
rays were so bright that it was painful to look at the shining steel
of the bayonets or at the reflections——like little suns -- on the
brass of the cannons.
The clear and rapid stream the detachment had just crossed lay
behind, and in front were tilled fields and meadows in shallow
valleys. Farther in front were the dark mysterious forest-clad hills
with craigs rising beyond them, and farther still on the lofty horizon
were the ever-beautiful ever-changing snowy peaks that played with the
light like diamonds.
At the head of the 5th Company, Butler, a tall handsome officer
who had recently exchanged from the Guards, marched along in a black
coat and tall cap, shouldering his sword. He was filled with a
buoyant sense of the joy of living, the danger of death, a wish for
action, and the consciousness of being part of an immense whole
directed by a single will. This was his second time of going into
action and he thought how in a moment they would be fired at, and he
would not only not stoop when the shells flew overhead, or heed the
whistle of the bullets, but would carry his head even more erect than
before and would look round at his comrades and the soldiers with
smiling eyes, and begin to talk in a perfectly calm voice about quite
The detachment turned off the good road onto a little-used one
that crossed a stubbly maize field, ant they were drawing near the
forest when, with an ominous whistle, a shell flew past amid the
baggage wagons -- they could not see whence -- and tore up the ground
in the field by the roadside.
"It's beginning," said Butler with a bright smile to a comrade who
was walking beside him.
And so it was. After the shell a thick crowd of mounted Chechens
appeared with their banners from under the shelter of the forest. In
the midst of the crowd could be seen a large green banner, and an old
and very far-sighted sergeant-major informed the short-sighted Butler
that Shamil himself must be there. The horsemen came down the hiss
and appeared to the right, at the highest part of the valley nearest
the detachment, and began to descend. A little general in a thick
black coat and tall cap rode up to Butler's company on his ambler, and
ordered him to the right to encounter the descending horsemen. Butler
quickly led his company in the direction indicated, but before he
reached the valley he heard two cannon shots behind him. He looked
round: two clouds of grey smoke had risen above two cannon and were
spreading along the valley. The mountaineers' horsemen -- who had
evidently not expected to meet artillery -- retired. Butler's company
began firing at them and the whole ravine was filled with the smoke of
powder. Only higher up above the ravine could the mountaineers be
seen hurriedly retreating, though still firing back at the Cossacks
who pursued them. The company followed the mountaineers farther, and
on the slope of a second ravine came in view of an aoul.
Following the Cossacks, Butler and his company entered the aoul at
a run, to find it deserted. The soldiers were ordered to burn the
corn and the hay as well as the saklyas, and the whole aoul was soon
filled with pungent smoke amid which the soldiers rushed about
dragging out of the saklyas what they could find, and above all
catching and shooting the fowls the mountaineers had not been able to
take away with them.
The officers sat down at some distance beyond the smoke, and
lunched and drank. The sergeant-major brought them some honeycombs
on a board. There was no sigh of any Chechens and early in the
afternoon the order was given to retreat. The companies formed into a
column behind the aoul and Butler happened to be in the rearguard. As
soon as they started Chechens appeared, following and firing at the
detachment, but they ceased this pursuit as soon as they came out into
an open space.
Not one of Butler's company had been wounded, and he returned in a
most happy and energetic mood. When after fording the same stream it
had crossed in the morning, the detachment spread over the maize
fields and the meadows, the singers of each company came forward and
songs filled the air.
"Verry diff'rent, very diff'rent, Fagers are, Fagers are!" sang
Butler's singers, and his horse stepped merrily to the music.
Trezorka, the shaggy grey dog belonging to the company, ran in front,
with his tail curled up with an air of responsibility like a
commander. Butler felt buoyant, calm, and joyful. War presented
itself to him as consisting only in his exposing himself to danger and
to possible death, thereby gaining rewards and the respect of his
comrades here, as well as of his friends in Russia. Strange to say,
his imagination never pictured the other aspect of war: the death and
wounds of the soldiers, officers, and mountaineers. To retain his
poetic conception he even unconsciously avoided looking at the dead
and wounded. So that day when we had three dead and twelve wounded,
he passed by a corpse lying on its back and did not stop to look,
seeing only with one eye the strange position of the waxen hand and a
dark red spot on the head. The hosslmen appeared to him only a
mounted dzhigits from whom he had to defend himself.
"You see, my dear sir," said his major in an interval between two
songs, "it's not as it is with you in Petersburg -- 'Eyes right! Eyes
left!' Here we have done our job, and now we go home and Masha will
set a pie and some nice cabbage soup before us. That's life -- don't
you think so? -- Now then! As the Dawn Was Breaking!" He called for
his favorite song.
There was no wind, the air was fresh and clear and so transparent
that the snow hills nearly a hundred miles away seemed quite near, and
in the intervals between the songs the regular sound of the footsteps
and the jingle of the guns was heard as a background on which each
song began and ended. The song that was being sung in Butler's
company was composed by a cadet in honor of the regiment, and went to
a dance tune. The chorus was: "Verry diff'rent, very diff'rent,
Fagers are, Fagers are!"
Butler rode beside the officer next in rank above him, Major
Petrov, with whom he lived, and he felt he could not be thankful
enough to have exchanged from the Guards and come to the Caucasus.
His chief reason for exchanging was that he had lost all he had at
cards and was afraid that if he remained there he would be unable to
resist playing though he had nothing more to lose. Now all that was
over, his life was quite changed and was such a pleasant and brave
one! He forgot that he was ruined, and forgot his unpaid debts. The
Caucasus, the war, the soldiers, the officers -- those tipsy, brave,
good-natured fellows -- and Major Petrov himself, all seemed so
delightful that sometimes it appeared too good to be true that he was
not in Petersburg -- in a room filled with tobacco smoke, turning down
the corners of cards and gambling, hating the holder of the bank and
feeling a dull pain in his head -- but was really here in this
glorious region among these brave Caucasians.
The major and the daughter of a surgeon's orderly, formerly known
as Masha, but now generally called by the more respectful name of
Marya Dmitrievna, lived together as man and wife. Marya Dmitrievna
was a handsome, fair-haired, very freckled, childless woman of thirty.
Whatever her past may have been she was now the major's faithful
companion and looked after him like a nurse -- a very necessary
matter, since he often drank himself into oblivion.
When they reached the fort everything happened as the major had
foreseen. Marya Dmitrievna gave him and Butler, and two other
officers of the detachment who had been invited, a nourishing and
tasty dinner, and the major ate and drank till he was unable to speak,
and then went off to his room to sleep.
Butler, having drunk rather more chikhir wine than was good for
him, went to his bedroom, tired but contented, and hardly had time to
undress before he fell into a sound, dreamless, and unbroken sleep
with his hand under his handsome curly head.
The aoul which had been destroyed was that in which Hadji Murad
had spent the night before he went over to the Russians. Sado and his
family had left the aoul on the approach of the Russian detachment,
and when he returned he found his saklya in ruins -- the roof fallen
in, the door and the posts supporting the penthouse burned, and the
interior filthy. His son, the handsome bright-eyed boy who had gazed
with such ecstasy at Hadji Murad, was brought dead to the mosque on a
horse covered with a barka; he had been stabbed in the back with a
bayonet. the dignified woman who had served Hadji Murad when he was
at the house now stood over her son's body, her smock torn in front,
her withered old breasts exposed, her hair down, and she dug her
hails into her face till it bled, and wailed incessantly. Sado,
taking a pick-axe and spade, had gone with his relatives to dig a
grave for his son. The old grandfather sat by the wall of the ruined
saklya cutting a stick and gazing stolidly in front of him. He had
only just returned from the apiary. The two stacks of hay there had
been burnt, the apricot and cherry trees he had planted and reared
were broken and scorched, and worse still all the beehives and bees
had been burnt. The wailing of the women and the little children, who
cried with their mothers, mingled with the lowing of the hungry cattle
for whom there was no food. The bigger children, instead of playing,
followed their elders with frightened eyes. The fountain was
polluted, evidently on purpose, so that the water could not be used.
The mosque was polluted in the same way, and the Mullah and his
assistants were cleaning it out. No one spoke of hatred of the
Russians. the feeling experienced by all the Chechens, from the
youngest to the oldest, was stronger than hate. It was not hatred,
for they did not regard those Russian dogs as human beings, but it was
such repulsion, disgust, and perplexity at the senseless cruelty of
these creatures, that the desire to exterminate them -- like the
desire to exterminate rats, poisonous spiders, or wolves -- was as
natural an instinct as that of self-preservation.
The inhabitants of the aoul were confronted by the choice of
remaining there and restoring with frightful effort what had been
produced with such labor and had been so lightly and senselessly
destroyed, facing every moment the possibility of a repetition of
what had happened; or to submit to the Russians -- contrary to their
religion and despite the repulsion and contempt they felt for them.
The old men prayed, and unanimously decided to send envoys to Shamil
asking him for help. Then they immediately set to work to restore
what had been destroyed.
The second day after the raid, not too early, Butler went out into
the street by way of the back door, intending to have a stroll and a
breath of fresh air before his morning tea, which he normally took
with Petrov. The sun was already clear of the mountains and it was
painful to look at the white daub houses where it shone on the
right-hand side of the street. It was, though, as cheering and
soothing as ever to look left wards at the black tree-clad mountains
rising higher and higher in the distance and, visible beyond the
ravine, the lusterless chain of snow-capped mountains pretending as
always to be clouds.
Butler looked at the mountains, filled his lungs, and felt happy
to be alive and to be just who he was, living in this beautiful world.
He was quite happy, too, about his conduct the previous day's action,
both during the advance and in particular during the march back when
things were quite hot; find he was happy to recall the way Masha,
otherwise Marya Dmitrievna (the woman Petrov lived with) had
entertained -hem after they had got back from the raid, and the
especially unaffected, kindly way she had treated everyone, being
particularly nice to him, it had seemed. With her thick plait of
hair, her broad shoulders, full bosom, and kindly beaming rice
covered with freckles, Marya Dmitrievna could not help attracting
Butler who was a young, vigorous, unmarried man, and he even had an
idea that she was keen on him. But he thought it would be a shabby
way to treat his simple, good-natured comrade and always behaved
towards Marya Dmitrievna with the utmost simplicity and respect and
it gladdened him that he did so. He was thinking of this just now.
His thoughts were disturbed by the drumming of many horses' hoofs
on the dusty road ahead of him. It sounded like several horsemen
galloping. He raised his head and saw at the end of the street a party
of riders approaching at a walk. There were a couple of dozen Cossacks
with two men riding at their head: one wore a white cherkeska and a
tall papakha wound with a turban, the other was a dark, hook-nosed
officer in the Russian service, dressed in a blue cherkeska with a
lavish amount of silver on his clothing and weapons. The horseman in
the turban rode a handsome palomino with a small head and beautiful
eyes; the officer was mounted on a tall, rather showy Karabakh.
Butler, who was very keen on horses, appreciated at a glance the
resilient power of the first rider's horse and stopped to find out who
they were. The officer spoke to him.
'That house of commandant?' he asked, pointing with his whip at
Ivan Matveevich's (Petrov's) house, and betraying by his accent and
defective grammar his non-Russian origin.
'Yes, that's it,' said Butler. 'And who might that be?' he asked,
going closer to the officer and with a glance indicating the man in
'That Hadji Murad. He come here and stay with commandant,' said
Butler knew about Hadji Murad and that he had surrendered to the
Russians, but he had never expected to see him here, in this small
Hadji Murad was looking at him in a friendly fashion.
'How do you do. KosAkoldy,' said Butler, using the Tatar greeting
he had learnt.
'Saubul,' replied Hadji Murad, nodding. He rode across to Butler
and offered his hand from which his whip hung on two fingers.
'Commandant?' he asked.
'No, the commandant is inside. I'll go and fetch him,' Butler said
to the officer, going up the steps and pushing at the door.
But the 'front door', as Marya Dmitrievna called it, was locked.
Butler knocked, but getting no reply went round by the back way. He
called for his batman, but got no answer, and being unable to find
either of the two boatman went into the kitchen. Marya Dmitrievna was
there, with face flushed, her hair pinned up in a kerchief and sleeves
rolled up over her plump, white arms. she was cutting pie-cases from a
rolled out layer of dough as white as her arms.
'Where have the batmen got to?' asked Butler.
'Gone off drinking,' said Marya Dmitrievna. 'What is it you want?'
'I want the door opened. You've got a whole horde of mountaineers
outside. Hadji Murad has come.'
'Go on, tell me another one,' said Marya Dmitrievna, smiling.
'It's not a joke. It's true. They are just outside.'
'What? Really? ' said Marya Dmitricvna.
'Why should I want to make it up? Go and look—they are just
'Well, there's a thing!' said Marya Dmitrievna, rolling down her
sleeves and feeling for the pins in her thick plait of hair. 'I'll go
and wake up Ivan Matvcovich, then! '
'No, I'll go. You, Bondarenko, go and open the door,' said Butler.
' That's all right by me,' said Marya Dmitrievna and returned to
When he learnt that Hadji Murad had arrived, Petrov, who had heard
already that he was in Grozny, was not in the least surprised. He sat
up in bed, rolled a cigarette, lit it, and began to get dressed,
loudly coughing to clear his throat and grumbling at the higher-ups
who had sent 'that devil' to him. When he was dressed, he ordered his
batman to bring his ' medicine ', and the batman, knowing what he
meant, brought him some vodka.
'You should never mix your drinks,' he growled, drinking the vodka
and eating a piece of black bread with it. 'I was drinking chikhir
last night and now I've got a thick head. All right, I'm ready,' he
said finally and went into the parlor, where Butler had taken Hadji
Murad and the escorting officer.
The officer handed Ivan Matveevich the orders from the commander
of the Left Flank in which he was instructed to take charge of Hadji
Murad and, while allowing him contact with the mountaineers through
scouts, to ensure that he never left the fort except with an escort of
Ivan Matveevich read the paper, looked hard at Hadji Murad, and
studied the paper again. After several times shifting his gaze from
the paper to his visitor, he finally fixed his eyes on Hadji Murad and
' Yakshi, bek-yaksh~. Very well. Let him stay then. But you tell
him that my orders are not to let him loose. And orders are orders. As
to quarters, what do you think, Butler? We could put him in the
Before Butler could reply, Marya Dmitrievna, who had come from the
kitchen and was standing in the doorway, said to Ivan Matveevich:
' Why in the office? Let him stay here. We can give him the
guest-room and the store-room. At least he'll be where you can keep
an eye on him,' she said. she glanced at Hadji Murad, but meeting his
eyes turned hurriedly away.
'Yes, I think Marya Dmitrievna is right,' said Butler.
'Go on, off with you!' said Ivan Matveevich, frowning 'Womenfolk
have no business here.'
Throughout this conversation Hadji Murad sat with his hand behind
the handle of his dagger and a faintly disdainful smile on his lips.
He said it mattered nothing where he lived. All he needed was what the
sardar had granted—to have contact with the mountaineers, and he
wished therefore that they be allowed access to him. Ivan Matveevich
said that this would be done and asked Butler to look after their
guests while something to eat was brought and the rooms made ready. He
would go to the office to fill in the necessary papers and give the
Hadji Murat's relations with these new acquaintances immediately
became very clearly established. From their first meeting Hadji Murat
felt nothing but repugnance and scorn for Ivan Matveevich and was
always haughty in his treatment of him. He particularly liked Marya
Dn1itrievna, who cooked and served his food. He liked her simple
manner, her particular, for him foreign, type of beauty, and the
unconsciously conveyed attraction which she felt for him. He tried not
to look at her, or to speak to her, but his eyes turned automatically
towards her and followed her movements.
With Butler he struck up an immediate friendship and took pleasure
in the long talks he had with him, asking Butler about his life and
telling him of his own, passing on the news brought by the scouts
about the situation of his family and even asking his advice as to
what he should do.
The news brought by the scouts was not good. In the four days he
had been at the fort they had come twice and on both occasions the
news was bad.
SHORTLY after Hadji Murad s surrender to the Russians his family
was taken to the village of Vedeno and kept there under guard waiting
for Shamil to decide their fate. The women—Hadji Murad's old mother
Patimat and his two wives—together with their five small children
lived under guard in the house of Ibrahim Rashid, one of Shamil's
captains; Yusuf, his eighteen-year-old son, was kept in a dungeon, a
deep pit dug eight or nine feet into the ground, with four criminals
who, like him, were awaiting Shamil's decision on their fate.
But no decision came, because Shamil was away campaigning against
On 6 January 1852, Shamil returned home to Vedeno after a battle
with the Russians in which, according to the Russians, he had been
beaten and fled to Vedeno, but in which, according to the view of
Shamil and all his murids, he had been victorious and put the Russians
to flight. In this engagement and it happened very rarely— he himself
had fired his rifle and with drawn sword would have charged straight
at the Russians if his escort of murids had not held him back. Two of
them were killed at his side.
It was midday when Shamil arrived at his destination, surrounded
by his party of murids showing of their horsemanship, firing rifles
and pistols and chanting endlessly 'La ilaha illa allah.'
All the people of Vedeno, which was a large village, were standing
in the street and on the roofs of the houses to greet their master,
and they too celebrated the event with musket and pistol fire. Shamil
rode on a white Arab, which merrily sought to have its head as they
neared home. The horse's harness was extremely plain with no gold or
silver ornament a red leather bridle, finely made and grooved down the
middle, metal bucket stirrups and a red shabrack showing from under
the saddle. The Imam wore a fur coat overlaid with brown cloth, the
black fur projecting at the collar and cuffs; it was drawn tight about
his tall, slim frame by a black leather strap with a dagger attached
to it. On his head he wore a tall, flattopped papakha with a black
tassel and white turban round it, the end of which hung below his
neck. On his feet were green soft leather boots and his legs were
covered with tight black leggings edged with plain lace.
The Iman wore nothing at all that glittered, no gold or silver,
and his tall, erect, powerful figure in its plain clothes in the midst
of the murids with their gold- and silver-ornamented dress and
weapons, created on the people exactly the impression of grandeur
which he desired and knew how to create His pale face, framed by his
trimmed red beard, with its small, constantly screwed up eyes, wore a
fixed expression as if made of stone. Passing through the village he
felt thousands of eyes turned on him, but his own eyes looked at no
one. The wives and children of Hadji Murad went on to the verandah
with the other occupants of the house to watch the Imam's entry. Only
Patimat, Hadji Murad's old mother, did not go, but remained sitting as
she was on the floor of the house with her grey hair disheveled and
her long arms clasped round her thin knees, while she blinked her
fiery black eyes and watched the logs burning down in the fire-place.
She, like her son, had always hated Shamil, now more than ever, and
had no wish to see him.
Hadji Murad's son also saw nothing of Shamil's triumphal entry.
From his dark fetid pit he could only hear the shots and chanting and
he experienced such anguish as is only felt by young men, full of
life, when deprived of their freedom. Sitting in the stinking pit and
seeing only the same wretched, filthy, emaciated creatures he was
confined with, who mostly hated one another, he was overcome by a
passionate envy for people who had air and light and freedom and were
at this moment prancing round their leader on dashing horses and
shooting and chanting in chorus 'La ilaha illa allah.'
After processing through the village Shamil rode into a large
courtyard next to an inner one where he had his harem. Two armed
Lezghians met Shamil at the opened gates of the first courtyard. The
yard was full of people. There were people from distant parts here on
their own account, there were petitioners, and there were those whom
Shamil himself had summoned for judgement. When Shamil rode in
everyone in the courtyard rose and respectfully greeted the Imam with
their hands placed to their chests. Some knelt and remained kneeling
while Shamil crossed the courtyard from the outer to the inner
gateway. Although Shamil recognized in the waiting crowd many
disagreeable people and many tiresome petitioners who would be
wanting his attention, he rode past them with the same stony
expression on his face and went into the inner court where he
dismounted alongside the veranda of his residence to the left of the
The campaign had been a strain, mental rather than physical, for
although he had proclaimed it a victory, Shamil knew that the campaign
had been a failure, that many Chechen villages had been burnt and
destroyed, and that the Chechens—a fickle and light-headed people—
were wavering and some of them, nearest to the Russians, were already
prepared to go over to them. It was all very difficult and measures
would have to be taken, but for the moment Shamil did not want to do
anything or think about anything. All he wanted was to relax and enjoy
the soothing delights of family life provided by his favorite wife
Aminet, a black-eyed, fleet-footed Kist girl of eighteen.
But not only was it out of the question to see Aminet at this
moment—though she was only on the other side of the fence which
separated the women's apartments from the men's quarters in the inner
courtyard (and Shamil had no doubt that even as he dismounted Aminet
and his other wives would be watching through the fence)—not only
could he not go to her, he could not even lie down on a feather
mattress and recover from his fatigue. Before anything else he had to
perform his midday devotions. He felt not the least inclination to do
so, but it was necessary that he should, not only in his capacity as
religious leader of the people, but also because to him personally it
was as essential as his daily food. So he carried out the ritual
washing and praying. At the end of the prayers he summoned those who
The first to come in to him was his father-in-law and teacher,
Jemel-Edin, a tall fine-looking old man with grey hair, snowy white
beard and a rubicund face. After a prayer to God, he began to question
Shamil about the campaign and to recount what had happened in the
mountains while he was away.
There were all manner of events to report—blood-feud killings,
cattle-stealing, alleged breaches of the Tarikat—smoking tobacco,
drinking wine, and Jemel-Edin also told Shamil that Hadji Murad had
sent men to take his family over to the Russians, but that this was
discovered and the family had been moved to Vedeno, where they were
now under guard awaiting the Imam's decision. The old men were
gathered in the adjoining guest-room for the purpose of considering
all these matters, and Jemel-Edin advised Shamil to dismiss them today
since they had already waited three days for him.
Shamil took dinner in his own room, where it was brought by
Zaidet, the senior of his wives, a sharp-nosed, dark, ill-favored
woman for whom he did not care. He then went into the guest-room.
There were six men in Shamil's council—old men with white, grey
and ginger beards. They wore tall papakhas with or without turbans,
new jackets and cherkeskass with leather belts and daggers. They rose
to greet him. Shamil was a head taller than any of them. They all,
including Shamil, lifted their upturned hands and with closed eyes
recited a prayer, then wiped their hands across their faces, drew them
down over their beards and joined them. This done, they sat down, with
Shamil sitting on a higher cushion in the middle, and began their
deliberations of the business in hand.
The cases of those accused of crimes were decided according to the
Shariat: two thieves were condemned to have a hand cut off, another to
have his head cut off for murder, and three were pardoned. They moved
on then to the main business to consider what measures should be taken
to prevent the Chechens going over to the Russians. In order to halt
these defections Jemel-Edin had drawn up the following proclamation:
' May you have peace everlasting with Almighty God. I hear that
the Russians show favors to you and call for your submission. Believe
them not, do not submit, but be patient. For this you will be
rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Remember
what happened before when your weapons were taken from you. If then,
in 1840, God had not shown you the light, you would now be soldiers
and carry bayonets instead of daggers, and your wives would not wear
trousers and would be defiled. Judge the future by the past. It is
better to die at war with the Russians than to live with the
infidels. Be patient, and I shall come with the Koran and the sword
to lead you against the Russians. For the present I strictly command
you to have neither intention nor even any thought of submitting to
Shamil approved the proclamation, signed it and decreed that it
should be dispatched to all parts.
When this business was finished the question of Hadji Murad was
discussed. This was a very important matter for Shamil. Although he
did not care to admit it, he knew that if Hadji Murad had been on his
side, with his skill, daring, and courage what had now happened in
Chechnia would never have occurred. It would be good to settle his
quarrel with Hadji Murad and make use of him once again; but if that
could not be done, he must still ensure that he did not aid the
Russians. In either case, therefore, he must send for him and, when
he came, kill him. This could be done either by sending a man to
Tiflis to kill him there, or by summoning him and putting an end to
him here. The only way to do that was to use Hadji Murad's family,
above all his son, whom, as Shamil knew, he adored. It was therefore
necessary to work through his son.
When the councilors had talked it over, Shamil closed his eyes and
The councilors knew what this meant: Shamil was now listening to
the voice of the Prophet telling him what should be done. After five
minutes' solemn silence Shamil opened his eyes, screwing them more
tightly than before and said:
' Fetch me the son of Hadji Murad.'
'He is here,' said Jemel-Edin.
Indeed, Yusuf, thin, pale, ragged, and stinking, still handsome
though in face and figure, and with the same fiery black eyes as
Patimat, his grandmother, was standing at the gate of the outer
courtyard waiting to be summoned.
Yusuf did not feel about Shamil as his father did. He did not know
all that had happened in the past, or if he knew, it was only at
second-hand, and he could not understand why his father was so
doggedly opposed to Shamil. Yusuf only wanted to go on living the
easy, rakish life that he, as son of the naib, had led in Khunzakh,
and he could see no point in being at odds with Shamil. In defiant
opposition to his father he greatly admired Shamil and regarded him
with the fervent veneration that was generally felt for him in the
mountains. He experienced a particular feeling of awe and reverence
for the Imam now as he entered the guest-room. He stopped at the door
and was fixed by Shamil's screwed up eyes. He stood for a few
moments, then went up to Shamil and kissed his large white hand with
'You are the son of Hadji Murad?'
'You know what he has done?'
' I know, Imam, and am sorry for it.'
'Do you know how to write?'
'I was studying to be a mullah.'
'Then write to your father and say that if he returns to me now,
before Bairam, I will pardon him and all will be as of old. But if he
will not and remains with the Russians, then...'—Shamil frowned
menacingly—'I shall give your grandmother and mother to be used in
the villages, and I shall cut off your head.'
Not a muscle twitched on Yusuf's face. He bowed his head to
signify he had understood what Shamil said.
' Write that and give it to my messenger.'
Shamil was then silent and took a long look at Yusuf
'Write that I have decided to spare you. I will not kill you but
will have your eyes put out, the same as I do to all traitors. Go.'
Yusuf appeared to be calm while in the presence of Shamil, but
when he was led out of the guest-room he threw himself on his escort,
snatched his dagger from its sheath and tried to kill himself But he
was seized by the arms, bound and taken back to the pit.
That evening when the evening prayers were over and dusk fell,
Shamil put on a white fur top-coat and passed through the fence into
the part of the courtyard where his wives lived. He went straight to
Aminet's room. But Aminet was not there; she was with the older wives.
Trying to keep out of sight, Shamil stood behind the door of her room
to wait for her. But Aminet was angry with Shamil because he had given
some silk to Zaidet and not to her. she saw him come out and go to
look for her in her room and she deliberately did not return to her
room. she stood a long time in Zaidet's doorway, laughing quietly as
she watched the white figure go in and out of her room. It was nearly
time for the midnight prayers when Shamil, after waiting in vain, went
back to his own quarters.
Hadji Murad had been a week at the fort living in the house of
Ivan Matveevich. Although Marya Dmitrievna had quarreled with the
shaggy-haired Khanefi (Hadji Murad had with him only two men: Khanefi
and Eldar) and had several times ejected him from her kitchen—for
which he nearly cut her throat—she evidently felt a particular
respect and sympathetic concern for Hadji Murad. She no longer served
him his dinner, a task she had passed on to Eldar, but she took every
opportunity to see him and do anything she could to please him. she
also took a very keen interest in the negotiations about his family;
she knew how many wives he had, how many children and what ages they
were, and each time a scout came she asked whom she could to discover
how the negotiations were going.
In the course of this week Butler had become firm friends with
Hadji Murad. Sometimes Hadji Murad would call on him in his room, at
other times Butler would visit him. They sometimes conversed through
an interpreter, otherwise they used their own resources— signs and,
particularly, smiles. Hadji Murad had evidently taken a liking to
Butler. This was clear from the way that Butler was treated by Eldar.
Whenever Butler came into Hadji Murad's room Eldar greeted him,
flashing his teeth in a cheerful grin, hastened to put cushions on his
seat and helped him off with his sword if he was wearing
Butler also got on good terms with the shaggy-haired Khanefi, who
was Hadji Murad's sworn brother. Khanefi knew many songs of the
mountains and sang them well. To please Butler Hadji Murad would
summon Khanefi and tell him to sing, mentioning the songs he thought
good. Khanefi had a high tenor voice and sang with great clarity and
expression. There was one song Hadji Murad was particularly fond of
and Butler was much struck by its solemn, sad refrain. Butler asked
the interpreter to tell him the words in Russian and wrote it down.
The song was about vengeance—the vengeance that Khanefi and
Hadji Murad had pledged to each other.
It went as follows:
'The earth will dry on my grave, and you, my own mother, will
forget me. Grave grass will grow over the graveyard and will deaden
your grief, my old father. The tears will dry in my sister's eyes and
sorrow will fly from her heart.
' But you, my elder brother, will not forget me till you have
avenged my death. You, my second brother, will not forget me till you
lie by my side.
'Bullet, you are hot and the bearer of death, but were you not my
faithful slave? Black earth, you will cover me, but did I not trample
you beneath my horse's hoofs? Death, you are cold, but I was your
master. The earth shall take my body, and heaven my soul.'
Hadji Murad always listened to this song with his eyes closed,
and, as its last lingering note faded away, he would say in Russian:
' Good song, wise song.'
With the arrival of Hadji Murad and his close acquaintance with
him and his murids, Butler was even more captivated by the poetry of
the peculiar, vigorous life led by the mountaineers. He got himself a
jacket, cherkeska and leggings, and he felt he was a mountaineer too,
living the same life as these people.
On the day Hadji Murad was to leave Ivan Matveevich gathered a few
of the officers to see him off. The officers were sitting at two
tables, one for tea, dispensed by Marya Dmitrievna, and the other laid
with vodka, chikhir and hors d'oeuvre, when Hadji Murad, armed and
dressed for the road, came limping with quick, soft steps into the
Everyone rose and one after the other shook hands with him. Ivan
Matveevich invited hem to sit on the ottoman, but Hadji Murad thanked
him and sat on a chair by the window He was clearly not in the least
put out by the silence which fell when he came in. He closely studied
the faces of those present then fixed his eyes indifferently on the
table with the samovar and food on it. Petrokovsky, one of the
officers more spirited than the rest, who had not seen Hadji Murad
before, asked him through the interpreter if he had liked Tiflis.
Maya,' said Hadji Murad.
'He says he does,' the interpreter answered.
'What did he like in particular?'
Hadji Murad made some reply.
'He liked the theater best.'
'Did he enjoy the commander-in-chief's ball?'
Hadji Murad frowned.
'Every people has its own customs. Our women do not wear such
clothes,' he said, glancing at Marya Dmitrievna.
'What didn't he like?'
'We have a saying,' Hadji Murad said to the interpreter. 'A dog
asked a donkey to eat with him and gave him meat, the donkey asked the
dog and gave him hay: they both went hungry.' He smiled. ' Every
people finds its own ways good.'
The conversation stopped there. The officers began drinking tea or
eating. Hadji Murad took the glass of tea he was offered and put it in
front of him.
'Now, would you like some cream? Perhaps a bun?' asked Marya
Dmitrievna, serving him.
Hadji Murad inclined his head.
'Well, good-bye then,' said Butler, touching him on the knee.
'When shall we meet again?'
'Good-bye, good-bye,' Hadji Murad said in Russian, smiling. 'Kunak
Bulur. I your good kunak. Now time—off we go,' he said, tossing his
head as if to show the direction he had to go. Eldar appeared in the
doorway with something large and white over his shoulder and a sword
in his hand. Hadji Murad beckoned him and Eldar with his long strides
came over and gave him the white cloak and the sword. Hadji Murad took
the cloak and, dropping it over his arm, gave it to Marya Dmitrievnas
saying something for the interpreter to translates
'He says: you admired the cloak—take it,' said the interpreter.
'But what for?' said Marya Dmitrievna, blushing.
'Must do. Adat tad it is the custom', said Hadji Murad.
'Well, thank you,' said Marya Dmitrievna, taking the cloak. ' God
grant you may rescue your son. He is a fine boy ulan yakshi,' she
added. 'Tell him I hope he can rescue his family.'
Hadji Murad looked at Marya Dmitrievna and nodded in approval.
Then he took the sword from Eldar and gave it to Ivan Matveevich. Ivan
Matveevich took it and said to the interpreter:
'Tell him he must take my brown gelding. That is all I can give in
Hadji Murad waved his hand in front of his face to show that he
did not want anything and would not accept it. Then he pointed first
to the mountains, then to his heart, and went to the door. Everyone
followed. Some of the officers, who remained inside, drew the sword
and after inspecting the blade decided it was a genuine gourda.
Butler accompanied Hadji Murad on to the steps outside. But just
then something totally unexpected happened which might have cost Hadji
Murad his life but for his promptness, determination and skill.
The villagers of Tash-Kichu, a Kumyk village, held Hadji Murad in
high esteem and on many occasions had come to the fort just to have a
look at the celebrated naib. Three days before Hadji Murad's departure
they sent messengers inviting him to attend their mosque on Friday.
However, the Kumyk princes who resided at Tash-Kichu hated Hadji Murad
and had a blood feud with him, and when they heard of the villagers'
invitation they would not allow him into the mosque. The people were
roused by this and there was a fight between the villagers and the
princes' supporters. The Russian authorities restored peace among the
mountaineers and sent a message to Hadji Murad instructing him not to
attend the mosque. Hadji Murad did not go and everybody thought the
matter was ended.
But at the very moment of Hadji Murad's departure, when he went
out on to the steps and the horses stood waiting outside, one of the
Kumyk princes, Arslan-Khan, who was known to Butler and Ivan
Matveevich, rode up to the house.
Seeing Hadji Murad he drew his pistol from his belt and aimed it
at him. But before Arslan-Khan could fire, Hadji Murad, despite his
lameness, sprang like a cat from the steps towards him. Arslan-Khan
fired and missed. Hadji Murad meanwhile had run up to him, and with
one hand seized his horse's bridle and with the other pulled out his
dagger, shouting something in Tatar.
Butler and Eldar rushed up to the enemies at the same time and
seized them by the arms. Hearing the shot, Ivan Matveevich also
'What do you mean by this, Arslan—creating mischief in my
house!' he said, on discovering what had happened. ' It's no way to
behave. Have it out with each other by all means, but keep it "out"
and don't go slaughtering people in my house.'
Arslan-Khan, a tiny man with a black mustache, got down from his
horse, pale and shaking, and with a vicious look at Hadji Murad went
off with Ivan Matveevich into the parlor. Hadji Murad went back to the
horses, breathing heavily and smiling.
'Why did he want to kill you?' Butler asked him through the
interpreter. The interpreter translated Hadji Murad's reply: 'He says
that it is our law. Arslan has blood to avenge on him, that is why he
wanted to kill him.'
'And what if he catches up with him on his journey?' asked Butler.
Hadji Murad smiled.
' What of it? If he kills me, it will be the will of Allah. Well,
good-bye,' he said once more in Russian, and grasping his horse by the
withers, looked round at those seeing him off and affectionately
encountered Marya Dnzitrievna's eye.
' Good-bye, good lady,' he said to her. ' Thank you.'
' May God only grant you can get your family free,' repeated Marya
Hadji Murad did not understand what she said, but he understood
her concern for him and nodded to her.
' Be sure you don't forget your ktlnak,' said Butler.
'Tell him I am his true friend and will never forget him,' Hadji
Murad replied through the interpreter. Then, despite his crooked leg,
as soon as his foot touched the stirrup he swung his body quickly and
effortlessly on to the high saddle and, straightening his sword and
with a customary hand fingering his pistol, he rode off from Ivan
Matveevich's house with that particular proud, warlike air the
mountaineers have when on horseback. Khanefi and Eldar also mounted
and, after bidding friendly farewells to their hosts and the officers,
set off at a trot after their murshid.
As always happens, a discussion started about the person who had
'He's a great fellow!'
'It was just like a wolf the way he went for Arslan-Khan. There
was a completely different look on his face.'
' He will do us down,' said Petrokovsky. ' He must be a right
'Then I wish there were more Russian rogues like him,' interposed
Marya Dmitrievna with sudden annoyance. 'He was with us for a week and
he couldn't have been nicer,' she said. 'Polite and wise and
fair-minded he was.'
'How did you find all that out?'
'I just did.'
'Fallen for him, have you?' said Ivan Matveevich, coming in. 'It's
'All right, so I've fallen for him. What's that to you? I just
don't see why you speak ill of somebody when he is a good man. He may
be a Tatar, but he is a good man.'
' Quite right, Marya Dmitrievna,' said Butler. 'Good for you to
stand up for him.
The life of those living in the advanced fortresses on the
Chechnia Line went on as before. In the interval there had been two
alarms; foot-soldiers came running out, Cossacks and militia galloped
in pursuit, but on neither occasion were they able to apprehend the
mountaineers. They got away, and on one occasion at Vozdvizhenskoe
drove off eight Cossack horses which were being watered and killed a
Cossack. There had been no Russian raids since the one which had
destroyed the village. But a major expedition into Greater Chechnia
was expected following the appointment of Prince Baryatinsky as
commander of the Left Flank.
On arriving in Grozny, being now in command of the whole Left
Flank, Prince Baryatinsky (a friend of the Crown Prince and former
commander of the Kabarda Regiment) at once assembled a force to
continue the fulfillment of the Emperor's instructions which
Chernyshev had communicated to Vorontsov. The column set out from
Vozdvizhenskoe, where it had assembled, and took up position on the
road to Kurinskoe. The troops camped there and engaged in forest
Young Vorontsov lived in a magnificent fabric tent; his wife,
Marya Vasilevna, would drive out to the camp and often stayed
overnight. Baryatinsky's relations with Marya Vasilevna were a matter
of common knowledge, and she was coarsely abused by the officers
unconnected with the court and by the ordinary soldiers, who because
of her presence in the camp were sent out on night picket duty. It
was usual for the mountaineers to bring up their cannon and fire into
the camp. The shots they fired mostly missed their target so as a
rule no action was taken against them. But to prevent the
mountaineers bringing up their guns and frightening Marya Vasilevna
pickets were sent out. To go on picket every night to save a lady
from being frightened was an insult and an offense, and the soldiers
and the officers not received in the best society had some choice
names for Marya Vasilevna.
Butler took leave from the fort and paid a visit to the column in
order to see old comrades from the Corps of Pages and his regiment,
now serving in the Kura Regiment or as aides-de-camp or adjutants on
the stay He found it all very enjoyable from the start. He stayed in
Poltoratsky's tent and there found a number of people he knew who were
delighted to see him. He also went to see Vorontsov, whom he knew
slightly, having once served in the same regiment with him. Vorontsov
made him very welcome. He introduced him to Prince Baryatinsky and
invited him to the farewell dinner he was giving to General Kozlovsky,
Baryatinsky's predecessor as commander of the Left Flank.
The dinner was splendid. Six tents had been brought up and pitched
together in a row. Their whole length was taken up by a table laid
with cutlery, glasses and bottles. It was all reminiscent of the
guards officers' life in St Petersburg. They sat down to table at two
o'clock. In the center of the table sat Kozlovsky on one side, and
Baryatinsky on the other. Vorontsov sat on Kozlovsky's right, his
wife on his left. The whole length of the table on either side was
filled by officers of the Kabarda and Kura Regiments. Butler sat by
Poltoratsky and they chatted gaily and drank with the officers
sitting by them. When they got to the main course and the orderlies
began filling the glasses with champagne, Poltoratsky—with genuine
apprehension and regret—said to Butler.
'Old "um-er" is going to make a fool of himself'
'What do you mean?'
'Why, he's got to make a speech. And how can he?'
'Yes, old boy, it's a bit different from capturing barricades
under fire. And on top of that he's got the lady next to him and all
these court fellows. It really is pitiful to watch,' said the
officers one to another.
But the solemn moment arrived. Baryatinsky rose and, lifting his
glass, addressed a short speech to Kozlovsky. When he had finished,
Kozlovsky got up and in a reasonably firm voice began to speak:
'By his Imperial Majesty's command I am leaving you, gentlemen,'
he said. ' we are parting, but always consider me um-er— present with
you... You, gentlemen, know the truth of the—um-er —saying that
you cannot soldier on your own. And so all the rewards that have come
to me in my—um-er service, everything that has been- um-er—
bestowed upon me, the generous tokens of his Majesty's favor, my—
um-er position, and my—um-er—good name, all this, absolutely
everything'—his voice quivered—' I—um-er—owe to you and to
you alone, my dear friends.' And his wrinkled face wrinkled still
more, he gave a sob, and tears came to his eyes. 'I give you my—
um-er—sincere and heartfelt thanks...'
Kozlovsky could not go on and stood to embrace the officers who
came up to him. Everyone was very touched. The princess covered her
face with her handkerchief Prince Vorontsov pulled a face and blinked
hard. Many of the officers, too, were moved to tears. And Butler, who
did not know Kozlovsky well, was also unable to restrain himself. He
found it all exceptionally agreeable. After this there were toasts to
Baryatinsky, to Vorontsov, to the officers, to the other ranks, and
finally the guests left, intoxicated by wine and the rapturous martial
sentiment to which they were anyway specially inclined.
The weather was superb—sunny and calm, and the air fresh and
invigorating. On every side was the sound of campfires crackling and
men singing. Everyone seemed to be celebrating. Butler went to call on
Poltoratsky in the most happy and serene frame of mind. Some of the
officers were gathered there, a card-table had been set up and an
aide-decamp had gone banker with a hundred rubles. Twice Butler left
the tent holding on to the purse in the pocket of his trousers, but in
the end he succumbed and, despite the vow he had made to his brothers
and to himself, began playing against the bank.
Before an hour was past Butler, flushed and sweating, covered with
chalk, was sitting with his elbows on the table, writing down his bets
beneath the crumpled cards. He had lost so much that he was now afraid
of counting what was scored against him. He knew without reckoning
that if he used all the pay he could get in advance and whatever his
horse would fetch he could still not make up the whole of what he owed
to this unknown aide-de-camp. He would have gone on playing, but the
aide-de-camp put down the cards with his clean white hands and began
totting up the column of chalk entries under Butler's name. Butler
with embarrassment apologized that he was unable to pay all his losses
immediately and said he would send the money on; as he said it he saw
they were all sorry for him and everyone, even Poltoratsky, avoided
his gaze. It was his last evening. All he had to do was to avoid
gambling and go to Vorontsov's where he had been invited. Everything
would have been fine, he thought. But far from being fine, everything
now was disastrous.
After saying good-bye to his comrades and friends, he left for
home and on arriving went straight to bed and slept for eighteen hours
at a stretch, as people usually do after losing heavily. Marya
Dmitrievna could tell he had lost everything by his request for fifty
kopecks to tip his Cossack escort, by his melancholy look and terse
replies, and she set on Ivan Matveevich for giving him leave.
It was after eleven when Butler woke on the following day and when
he recalled the situation he was in he would have liked to sink back
into the oblivion from which he had just emerged, but this could not
be done. He had to take steps to repay the 470 rubles which he owed to
this total stranger. One step was to write a letter to his brother,
repenting for his misdeed and begging him to send for the last time
500 rubles on account of his share in the mill which they still owned
jointly. Then he wrote to a skinflint relative begging her to let him
have 500 rubles, too, at whatever interest she wanted. Then he went to
see Ivan Matveevich and knowing that he, or rather Marya Dmitrievna,
had money, asked for a loan of 500 rubles.
'I'd be glad to: I'd let you have it like a shot, but Masha
wouldn't part with it. These damned womenfolk are that tight-fisted.
But you've got to get off the hook somehow. What about that sutler,
hasn't he got any money?'
But there was no point even trying to borrow from the sutler, so
Butler's only source of salvation was his brother or the skinflint
relative. Having failed to achieve his purpose in Chechnia, Hadji
Murad returned to Tiflis. He went daily to see Vorontsov, and when
Vorontsov received him he begged him to collect the mountaineers held
captive and exchange them for his family. He repeated again that
unless this were done he was tied and could not, as he wished, serve
the Russians and destroy Shamil. Vorontsov promised in general terms
to do what he could, but deferred giving a decision until General
Argutinsky arrived in Tiflis and he could discuss it with him. Hadji
Murad then asked Vorontsov's permission to go for a time to Nukha, a
small town in Transcaucasia where he thought it would be easier to
conduct negotiations about his family with Shamil and his supporters.
Besides that, Nukha was a Muslim town with a mosque and it would be
easier for him there to perform the prayers required by Muslim law.
Vorontsov wrote to St Petersburg about this, and meanwhile allowed
Hadji Murad to go to Nukha.
The story of Hadji Murad was regarded by Vorontsov, by the
authorities in St Petersburg and by the majority of Russians who knew
of it either as a lucky turn in the course of the war in the Caucasus
or simply as an interesting episode. But for Hadji Murad, especially
more recently, it was a drastic turning-point in his life. He had
fled from the mountains partly to save his life and partly because of
his hatred for Shamil. Despite all difficulties, he had succeeded in
escaping, and initially he had been delighted with his success and
actually considered his plans for attacking Shamil. But getting his
family out, which he had supposed would be easy, had proved harder
than he thought. Shamil had seized his family and now held them
captive, promising to dispatch the women into the villages and to
kill or blind his son. Now Hadji Murad was going to Nukha to try with
the help of his supporters in Daghestan by guile or force to rescue
his family from Shamil. The last scout to call on him at Nukha told
him that the Avars who were loyal to him were going to carry off his
family and bring them over to the Russians, but as they were short of
men ready to undertake this they were reluctant to attempt it in
Vedeno where the family was held and would only do it if they were
moved from Vedeno to some other place. They would then take action
while they were being moved. Hadji Murad ordered him to tell his
friends that he would give 3,000 rubles for the release of his
At Nukha Hadji Murad was allotted a small house with five rooms
not far from the mosque and the khan's palace. Living in the same
house were the officers and interpreter attached to him and his
nukers. Hadji Murad spent his time waiting for and receiving the
scouts who came in from the mountains and in going for the rides he
was allowed to take in the neighbor hood of Nukha.
On 8 April when he returned from riding Hadji Murad learnt that in
his absence an official had arrived from Tiflis. Despite his anxiety
to find out what news the official brought him, Hadji Murad did not go
at once to the room where the official and the local commissioner were
waiting, but went first to his own room to say his midday prayers.
After he had prayed, he went into the other room which served him as a
sitting-room and reception room. The official from Tiflis, a chubby
state councilor called Kirillov, conveyed to him that Vorontsov wished
him to be in Tiflis by the twelfth for a meeting with Argutinsky.
' Yakshi,' said Hadji Murad sharply.
He did not take to this official Kirillov.
'Have you brought the money?'
' Yes, I have it,' said Kirillov.
'It is for two weeks now,' said Hadji Murad, holding up ten
fingers then four more. ' Give it to me.'
'You will have it directly,' said the official, getting a purse
from his traveling bag. 'What does he want money for?' he said to the
commissioner in Russian, presuming that Hadji Murad would not
understand. But Hadji Murad did understand and looked angrily at
Kirillov. As he was taking out the money Kirillov, who wanted to
strike up some conversation with Hadji Murad in order to have
something to report to Vorontsov on his return, asked him through the
interpreter if he found life tedious in Nukha. Hadji Murad gave a
scornful sideways glance at this fat little man in civilian clothes
who carried no weapons, and made no answer. The interpreter repeated
'Tell him I have nothing to say to him. Let him just give me the
With this, Hadji Murad again sat down at the table and prepared to
count the money.
When Kirillov had produced the gold ten-ruble pieces and laid out
seven piles each of ten coins (Hadji Murad received 50 rubles in gold
per day), he pushed them across to Hadji Murad. Hadji Murad dropped
the coins into the sleeve of his eherkeska, rose and, as he left the
room, quite unexpectedly rapped the state councilor on the top of his
bald head. The state councilor leapt to his feet and commanded the
interpreter to say that he had better not treat him like that because
he was equivalent in rank to a colonel. The commissioner agreed. Hadji
Murad merely nodded to indicate that he knew that and left the room.
'What can you do with him?' said the commissioner. 'He will stick
his dagger in you, and that's that. There's no coming to terms with
these devils. And he's getting his blood up, I can see.'
As soon as dusk fell two scouts, hooded to the eyes, came in from
the mountains. The commissioner took them into Hadji Murad's quarters.
One of the scouts was a dark, portly Tavlistani, the other a skinny
old man. For Hadji Murad the news they brought was cheerless. Those of
his friends who had undertaken to rescue his family were now backing
out completely for fear of Shamil, who threatened the most horrifying
deaths to any who helped Hadji Murad. Having heard their account,
Hadji Murad put his elbows on his crossed legs, bowed his head (he was
wearing his papakha) and for a long time was silent. He was thinking,
thinking positively. He knew that he was thinking now for the last
time, that he must reach a decision. Hadji Murad raised his head and,
taking two gold pieces, gave one to each of the scouts.
' Go now.'
'What will be the answer?'
'The answer will be as God wills. Go.'
The scouts got up and left. Hadji Murad remained sitting on the
rug, his elbows on his knees. He sat there for a long time.
'What should I do? Trust Shamil and go back to him? He is a fox
and would play me false. And even if he did not, I could still not
submit to this ginger-haired double-dealer. I could not because, now
that I have been with the Russians, he will never trust me again,'
thought Hadji Murad.
And he recalled the Tavlistan folk-tale about the falcon which was
caught, lived among people and then returned to his home in the
mountains. The falcon returned wearing jesses on his legs and there
were bells still on them. And the falcons spurned him. 'Fly back to
the place where they put silver bells on you,' they said. ' we have no
bells, nor do we have jesses.' The falcon did not want to leave his
homeland and stayed. But the other falcons would not have him and tore
him to death.
Just as they will tear me to death, thought Hadji Murad.
'Should I stay here? Win the Caucasus for the Russian tsar, gain
fame and wealth and titles?'
'Yes, I could do that,' he thought, recalling his meetings with
Vorontsov and the old prince's flattering words.
' But I have to decide now, or he will destroy my family.'
All night Hadji Murad was awake, thinking.
Half-way through the night he had made up his mind. He decided
that he must flee to the mountains and with the Avars who were loyal
to him force his way into Vedeno and either free his family or die in
the attempt. Whether or not to bring his family back to the Russians
or flee to Khunzakh with them and fight Shamil he did not decide. He
knew only that he must now get away from the Russians and into the
mountains. And he began at once to put this decision into effect. He
took his black quilted jacket from beneath the cushion and went to his
nukers' quarters. They lived across the hall. As soon as he stepped
out into the hall, the door of which was open, he was enveloped by the
dewy freshness of the moonlit night and his ears were filled by the
whistling and warbling of nightingales in the garden by the house.
Hadji Murad crossed the hall and opened the door of his nukers'
room. There was no light in the room, only the new moon in its first
quarter shining through the windows. A table and two chairs stood to
the side and all four nukers lay on rugs and cloaks spread on the
floor. Khanefi was sleeping outside with the horses. Gamzalo, hearing
the door creak, raised himself, looked around and, seeing it was Hadji
Murad, lay down again. Eldar, however, who lay next to him sprang up
and began to put on his jacket, expecting some command. Kurban and
Khan-Mahoma slept on. Hadji Murad put hisj jacket on the table and
there was the knock of something hard as he did so: the gold pieces
sewn in the lining.
' Sew these in as well,' said Hadji Murad, handing Eldar the gold
pieces he had received that day.
Eldar took the money and, going into the light, at once got a
knife from beneath his dagger and began cutting open the lining of
the jacket. Gamzalo half rose and sat with crossed legs.
'Gamzalo, tell the men to check their guns and pistols and prepare
some cartridges. Tomorrow we shall travel far,' said Hadji Murad.
'There is powder and bullets. All will be ready,' said Gamzalo and
he growled some incomprehensible remark.
Gamzalo knew why Hadji Murad was ordering them to get their guns
loaded. Right from the start he had had only one desire, which as time
went on had grown ever stronger: to kill and cut down as many of the
Russian dogs as he could and escape to the mountains. He now saw that
Hadji Murad wanted this, too, and he was content.
When Hadji Murad had gone, Gamzalo roused his companions and all
four spent the night looking over their rifles and pistols, checking
the touch-holes and flints, replacing poor ones, priming the pans with
fresh powder, filling their cartridge pockets with measured charges of
powder and bullets wrapped in oiled rags, sharpening their swords and
daggers and greasing the blades with lard.
Near daybreak Hadji Murad again went into the hall to fetch water
to wash before praying. The singing of the nightingales as they
greeted the dawn was louder and more sustained than in the night.
From the nukers' room came the even sound of steel grating and
shrilling on stone as a dagger was sharpened. Hadji Murad ladled some
water from the tub and had reached his own door when he heard another
sound coming from the murids' room besides that of sharpening: it was
the thin voice of Khanefi singing a song Hadji Murad knew. Hadji
Murad stopped and listened.
The song told how the djigit Hamzad and his men drove off a herd
of white horses from the Russian side, and how later across the Terck
the Russian prince came on him and surrounded him with a great army as
thick as a forest. The song wont on to tell how Hamzad slaughtered the
horses and with his men held fast behind this bloody rampart of dead
horses and fought the Russians as long as there were bullets in their
guns and daggers at their belts and blood still flowed in their veins.
But before dying Hamzad saw some birds in the sky and cried out to
them: ' You birds of the air, fly to our homes and tell our sisters,
our mothers and fair maidens that we died for the Ghazalwat. Tell them
our bodies shall lie in no grave, our bones will be carried off and
gnawed by ravening wolves and black crows will pick out our eyes.'
With these words, sung to a doleful refrain, the song ended, to be
followed at once by the cheerful voice of the merry Khan-Mahoma who,
as the song finished, bawled 'La itaha illa allay and let out a
piercing yell. Then all was quiet and again the only sound was the
billing and singing of the nightingales in the garden and, through
the door, the even grating and occasional shrilling note of steel
slipping rapidly over stone.
Hadji Murad was so lost in thought that he did not notice he was
tipping the jug and spilling water over himself. He shook his head
reprovingly and went into his room.
When he had finished his morning prayers, Hadji Murad checked his
weapons and sat on his bed. There was nothing else to do. To ride out
he had to ask permission from the commissioner. It was still dark
outside and the commissioner was still asleep.
Khanefi's song reminded Hadji Murad of another song, which his
mother had made up. It was about an actual event something that had
happened just after he was born, but which he had heard from his
The song was this:
'Your damask blade slashed open my white breast, but I pressed to
it my darling boy, and washed him in my hot blood, and the wound
healed without help of herbs and roots. I did not fear death, no more
will my boy-djigit.'
The words of the song were addressed to Hadji Murad's father. The
point of it was that when Hadji Murad was born the khanoum also gave
birth to a son (Umma-Khan, her second son) and sent for Hadji Murad's
mother to be his wet-nurse as she had been for the khanoum's elder son
Abununtsal. But Patimat had not wanted to leave her son and refused to
go. Hadji Murad's father got angry and ordered her to. when she still
refused he stabbed her with his dagger and would have killed her if
she had not been taken away. So, after all, she did not give up her
son but raised him, and made up this song about what had happened.
Hadji Murad remembered his mother singing it to him as she put him
to bed alongside her, under the fur top-coat on the roof of their
house, and he asked her to show him her side where the scar was. He
could see his mother just as she was not all wrinkled and grey with
missing teeth as when he left her now, but young and beautiful and
strong, so strong that even when he was five or six and heavy she
carried him in a basket on her back to see his grandfather over the
And he remembered his grandfather with his wrinkled face and small
grey beard. He was a silversmith and Hadji Murad remembered him
engraving the silver with his sinewy hands and making him say his
prayers. He remembered the fountain at the bottom of the hill where
he went with his mother to fetch water, holding on to her trousers.
He remembered the skinny dog that used to lick his face, and
especially the smell and taste of smoke and sour milk when he
followed his mother into the barn where she milked the cow and warmed
the milk. He remembered the first time his mother shaved his head and
how surprised he had been to see his little round head all blue in
the shining copper basin that hung on the wall.
And remembering his childhood, he remembered too his own beloved
son Yusuf, whose head he himself had shaved for the first time. Now
Yusuf was a handsome young djigit. He remembered him as he last saw
him. It was on the day he left Tselmes. His son brought his horse for
him and asked if he could ride out and see him off. He was ready
dressed and armed and holding his own horse by the bridle. Yusuf's
young, ruddy, handsome face and everything about his tall slender
figure (he was taller than his father) had seemed the very expression
of youthful courage and the joy of living. His shoulders, broad for
one so young, his very wide youthful hips and long slender body, his
long powerful arms, and the strength, suppleness and dexterity of all
his movements were a constant joy to his father and Hadji Murad always
regarded his son with admiration.
'You had better stay,' Hadji Murad had said. 'You are the only one
at home now. Take care of your mother and grandmother.'
And Hadji Murad remembered the look of youthful spirit and pride
with which Yusuf, pleased and blushing, had replied that. as long as
he lived, no one would harm his mother or grandmother. Yusuf had then,
after all, mounted and gone with his father as far as the stream.
There he turned back, and since that time Hadji Murad had not seen his
wife, mother or son.
And this was the son whose eyes Shamil was going to put out. Of
what would happen to his wife he preferred not to think.
Hadji Murad was so agitated by these thoughts that he could not
sit still any longer. He jumped up and limped quickly to the door. He
opened it and called Eldar. The sun was not yet up, but it was fully
light. The nightingales still sang.
' Go and tell the commissioner I want to go riding, and get the
horses saddled,' he said.
Butler's only consolation at this time was the romance of military
life, to which he surrendered himself not only when on duty but also
in his private life. Dressed in Circassian costume, he performed the
riding tricks of the natives and with Bogdanovich had twice gone out
and lain in ambush, though on neither occasion did they catch or kill
anyone. These daring deeds and friendship with Bogdanovich, who was
well known for his bravery, seemed to Butler a pleasant and important
part of life. He had paid his debt by borrowing the money from a Jew
at an enormous rate of interest— which meant that he had simply
deferred settling his still unresolved situation. He tried not to
think about his situation and, as well as in military romancing, he
also sought oblivion in wine. He was drinking more and more heavily
and every day advanced his moral decay. He was no longer the handsome
Joseph where Marya Dmitrievna was concerned, on the contrary he made
coarse advances to her, and, much to his surprise, had received a
resolute rebuff which put him thoroughly to shame.
At the end of April a column arrived at the fort under orders from
Baryatinsky to make a new advance through all those parts of Chechnia
which were considered impassable. There were two companies of the
Kabarda Regiment and, according to established custom in the Caucasus,
they were received as the guests of the units stationed at Kurinskoe.
The soldiers were taken offto the different barracks and were not only
given supper of beef and millet porridge but also served with vodka.
The officers took up quarters with the local officers, who, as was
customary, entertained their visitors.
The party ended with drinking and singing. Ivan Matveevich, who
was very drunk and no longer red, but pale and grey in the face, sat
astride a chair cutting down imaginary enemies with his drawn sword;
he was swearing, laughing, embracing people and dancing to his
favourite song ' In years gone by Shamil rose up, Ho-ro-ro, Shamil
Butler was also present. In this, too, he tried to see the romance
of military life, but deep down he felt sorry for Ivan Matveevich,
though there was no way of stopping him. And Butler, feeling slightly
drunk, quietly left and set off home.
A full moon was shining on the white houses and on the stones in
the road. It was so light you could see every small stone, every piece
of straw and dung on the road. As he approached thc house Butler met
Marya Dmitrievna wearing a shawl over her head and shoulders. After
the rebuff she had given him Butler had rather shamefacedly avoided
her. But now in the moonlight and under the influence of the wine he
had drunk Butler was glad to meet her and tried again to make up to
' Where are you going?' he asked.
'To see what the old man is up to,' she answered amicably. She had
been quite sincere and positive in her rejection of Butler's advances,
but she was displeased that he had been avoiding her of late.
'What's the point of going after him? He'll get home.'
'But will he?'
' If he can't, they'll carry him.'
'That's just it, and it really isn't good enough,' said Marya
Dmitrievna. ' You think I shouldn't go then? '
' No, I shouldn't. We had best go home.'
Marya Dmitrievna turned back and began walking to the house with
Butler. The moon was so bright that around their shadows moving along
the roadside was a moving halo of light. Butler watched this halo
round his head and wanted to tell Marya Dmitrievna hat he found her as
attractive as ever, but did not know how to begin. She waited for him
to speak. Walking thus in silence they had almost reached the house
when round the corner appeared some horsemen. It was an officer and
'Who on earth is that?' said Marya Dmitrievna, stepping to the
side. The moon was behind the officer and it was only when he was
practically level with them that Marya Dmitrievna saw who it was. The
officer was Kamenev, who served at one time with Ivan Matveevich and
so was known to Marya Dmitrievna.
Peter Nikolaevich,' she said. 'Is that you?'
'In person,' said Kamenev. 'Ah, Butler! How are things? Not asleep
yet? Walking out with Marya Dmitrievna, are you? You look out or
you'll catch it from Ivan Matveevich. Where is he?'
'You can hear him,' said Marya Dmitrievna, pointing to where there
was the sound of singing and a bass drum. 'They're having a binge.'
'Your chaps, is it?'
'No. A column is in from Khasav-Yurt and they're giving them a
'Ah, a good thing. I'll get to it myself. I only want to see him
for a minute.
' Is something up? ' asked Butler.
'Just a small matter.'
' Good or bad? '
'Depends who for. It's good for us, but tough on others.' And
The couple walking and Kamenev had meanwhile reached Ivan
Kamenev called one of the Cossacks:
' Chikhirev! Here! '
A Don Cossack moved forward from the rest and came up to them. He
was in the ordinary Don Cossack uniform, wearing knee-boots and
greatcoat, and had saddle-bags slung at the back of his saddle. ' Get
it out,' said Kamenev, dismounting.
The Cossack also got off his horse and from one of the saddle-bags
drew out a sack with something in it. Kamenev took the sack from the
Cossack and put his hand in it.
'Shall I show you the latest, then? You won't be frightened?' he
said, turning to Marya Dmitrievna. 'What is there to be afraid of?'
said Marya Dmitrievna.
'There you are then,' said Kamenev and he pulled out a man's head
and held it up in the moonlight. ' Do you recognize him?'
It was a shaven head, with prominent bulges of the skull over the
eyes, trimmed black beard and clipped mustache; one eye was open, the
other half-closed; the shaven skull was split and hacked about and the
nose covered with black clotted blood. The neck was wrapped in a
bloody towel. Despite all the wounds on the head, there was in the set
of the now blue lips a childish, good-natured expression.
Marya Dmitrievna took one look and without a word turned and went
quickly into the house.
Butler could not take his eyes off the terrible head. It was the
head of that same Hadji Murad with whom he had recently spent his
evenings having such friendly chats.
'How did it happen? Who killed him? Where?' he asked.
'He tried to make a break for it and they caught him,' said
Kamenev, and handing the head back to the Cossack he went into the
house with Butler.
' He died like a real man,' said Kamenev.
'But how did it all happen?'
'Hang on a minute. When Ivan Matveevich comes I'll give you all
the details. That's what I've been sent for. I have got to go round
all the forts and villages showing them.'
Ivan Matveevich had been sent for and came back to the house
drunk, with two other officers also much the worse for drink, and
began embracing Kamenev.
' I have come to see you,' said Kamenev. ' I have brought you the
head of Hadji Murad.'
'Go on with you! Has he been killed?'
' Yes, he tried to escape.'
'I always said he would do us down. Where is it then? His lead—
let's see it.'
The Cossack was called and came in with the sack containing the
head. The head was taken out, and for a long time Ivan Matveevich
gazed at it with his drunken eyes.
'He was a fine fellow just the same,' he said. 'Let me kiss him.'
'He was a daredevil chap, that's a fact,' said one of the officers.
When they had all inspected the head they gave it back to the
Cossack. The Cossack replaced it in the sack, dropping it carefully
so as not to bump it too hard on the floor.
'What do you do, Kamenev- do you say something when you show it
round?' asked one of the officers.
' But I want to kiss him,' shouted Ivan Matveevich. ' He gave me a
Butler went out on to the porch. Marya Dmitrievna was sitting on
the second step. she looked round at Butler and at once turned angrily
'What's the matter, Marya Dmitrievna?' Butler asked.
'You are just a lot of butchers. You make me sick. Butchers,
that's what you are.'
'It can happen to anyone,' said Butler, not knowing what to say.
'War!' cried Marya Dmitrievna. 'What's war? You are butchers, and
that's all there is to it. A dead body should be decently buried and
they make mock of it. Butchers, that's what you are! ' she repeated
and went down the steps and into the house by the back door.
Butler went back to the parlor and asked Kamenev to tell hint in
detail what had happened.
And Kamenev told him.
It happened like this.
Hadji Murad was allowed to go riding in the neighborhood of the
town provided that he went with a Cossack escort. There was only one
troop of Cossacks altogether in Nukha; of these a dozen were detailed
for staff duties and if, according to orders, escorts of ten men were
sent out it meant that the remaining Cossacks had to do duty every
other day. Because of this, after the first day when ten Cossacks were
duly sent out, they decided to send only five men, at the same time
requesting Hadji Murad not to take his whole party of nukers. However
on 25 April all five of them accompanied Hadji Murad when he set off
for his ride. As Hadji Murad was mounting, the commandant noticed that
all five nukers were preparing to go and told Hadji Murad that he
could not take then1 all, but Hadji Murad, appearing not to hear,
spurred his horse, and the commandant did not insist. One of the
Cossacks was a corporal, Nazarov, who had the St George's Cross, a
young, healthy, fresh-faced fellow with light-brown hair cut in a
fringe. He was the oldest child of a poor family of Old Believers; he
had grown up with no father and kept his old mother, three sisters and
'See he doesn't go too far, Nazarov,' shouted the commandant.
' Very good, sir,' replied Nazarov. Then, rising on his stirrups
and steadying the rifle across his back, he set off at a trot on his
big, trusty, long-muzzled chestnut stallion. The other four Cossacks
followed him: Ferapontov, who was lean and lanky, the troop's leading
pilferer and fixer—he it was who had sold powder to Gamzalo;
Ignatov, who was middle-aged and nearing the end of his service, a
healthy peasant type who boasted how strong he was; Mishkin, just a
weedy boy, too young for active service, of whom everyone made fun;
and Petrakov, young and fair-haired, his mother's only son, who was
always amiable and cheerful.
It was misty first thing but by breakfast—time it was bright and
fine with the sun shining on the freshly burst leaves, the young
virginal grass, the shooting corn and the swift, rippling river on the
left of the road.
Hadji Murad rode at a walk. The Cossacks and his nukers followed,
keeping pace with him. Thus they rode out along the road behind the
fort. On their way they met women carrying baskets on their heads,
soldiers on wagons and creaking carts drawn by oxen. When they had
gone a couple of miles Hadji Murad spurred his white Kabarda horse to
a fast amble, and his nukers went into a quick trot. The Cossacks did
'Ay, that's a good horse he's got,' said Ferapontov. 'I'd have him
off it, if he was still a hostile like he used to be.'
' Yes, mate, 300 rubles they offered for that horse in Tiflis.'
' But I'd beat him on mine,' said Nazarov.
'That's what you think!' said Ferapontov.
Hadji Murad continued to increase the pace.
'Hi there, kunak, you mustn't do that! Not so fast!' shouted
Nazarov, going after Hadji Murad.
Hadji Murad looked back. He said nothing and went on without
'Watch out, those devils are up to something,' said Ignatov. 'Look
how they're going! ' They rode like this towards the mountains for
half a mile or so. 'Not so fast, I'm telling you,' Nazarov shouted
Hadji Murad did not answer or look back. He simply went faster and
put his horse into a gallop.
'Don't think you'll get away,' shouted Nazarov, stung by this.
He gave his big chestnut stallion the whip and, standing on the
stirrups and leaning forward, rode flat out after Hadji Murad.
The sky was so clear, the air so fresh, Nazarov felt so full of
the joy of life as he flew along the road after Hadji Murad, merging
into one with his powerful, trusty horse that the possibility of
anything wrong or sad or terrible happening never even occurred to
him. He was delighted that with every stride he was gaining on Hadji
Murad and getting close to him. Hearing the hoofbeats of the
Cossack's big horse getting nearer Hadji Murad realized that he would
very soon catch up with him and, seizing his pistol with his right
hand, used his left to steady his excited Kabarda which could hear
the beat of hoofs behind.
'Not so fast, I say,' shouted Nazarov, now almost level with Hadji
Murad and reaching out to seize the bridle of his horse. But before he
could catch hold of it a shot rang out.
'What's going on?' cried Nazarov, grasping at his heart. 'Get
them, lads!' he said as he swayed and fell forward over the
But the mountaineers were quicker with their weapons than the
Cossacks and fell on them with pistols firing and swords swinging
Nazarov hung on the neck of his terrified horse which carried him in
circles round his comrades. Ignatov's horse fell and crushed his leg.
Two of the mountaineers drew their swords and without dismounting
hacked him across the head and arms. Petrakov dashed to his aid but
before he could reach him was struck by two bullets, one in the back
and one in the side, and he toppled from his horse like a sack.
Mishkin turned his horse back and galloped for the fort. Khanefi
and Khan-Mahoma chased after him, but he had too good a start and the
mountaineers could not overtake him.
Seeing they could not catch up with him Khanefi and Khan Mahoma
returned to their companions. Gamzalo dispatched Ignatov with his
dagger and pulled Nazarov down from his horse before slitting his
throat too. Khan-Mahoma took off the dead men's cartridge pouches.
Khanefi was going to take Nazarov's horse, but Hadji Murad shouted to
him to leave it and set off down the road. His murids galloped after
him, trying to drive off the horse of Petrakov which followed them.
They were already in the rice-fields two or three miles from Nukha
when the alarm was sounded by a gunshot from the tower.
Petrakov lay on his back with his stomach slit open, his young
face turned to the sky, gasping like a fish as he lay dying.
'Merciful heavens above, what have they done!' cried the commander
of the fort, clasping his head as he listened to Mishkin's report and
heard of Hadji Murad's escape. 'They've done for me! Letting him get
away—the villains! '
A general alarm was raised. Every available Cossack was sent off
in pursuit of the fugitives, and all the militia from the peaceable
villages who could be mustered were called in as well. A
thousand-ruble reward was offered to anyone bringing in Hadji Murad
dead or alive. And two hours after Hadji Murad and his companions had
ridden away from the Cossacks more than two hundred mounted men were
galloping after the commissioner to seek out and capture the
After traveling a few miles along the main road Hadji Murad pulled
in his panting white horse, which was grey with sweat, and stopped.
Off the road to the right were the houses and minaret of the village
of Belardzhik, to the left were fields, on the far side of which was a
river. Although the way to the mountains lay to the right Hadji Murad
turned left in the opposite direction, reckoning that pursuers would
be sure to head after him to the right. He meanwhile would make his
way cross-country over the Alazan and pick up the highway again where
no one expected him, take the road as far as the forest, then
recrossing the river go on through the forest to the mountains. Having
made this decision, he turned to the left. But it proved impossible to
reach the river. The rice-field which they had to cross had just been
flooded, as happened every spring, and it was now a quagmire in which
the horses sank up to their fetlocks. Hadji Murad and his nukers
turned right and left, expecting to find a drier part, but the field
they had struck on was evenly flooded and sodden all over. The horses
dragged their feet from the sticky mud with a sound like popping corks
and every few paces stopped, panting heavily.
They struggled on like this for so long that when dusk fell they
had still not reached the river. To the left was a small island with
bushes in first leaf, and Hadji Murad decided to ride into the bushes
and stay there till night, resting their exhausted horses.
When they were in the bushes Hadji Murad and his nukers
dismounted, hobbled their horses and left them to graze. They
themselves ate some of the bread and cheese they had brought with
them. The new moon that had been shining sank behind the mountains
and the night was dark. There was an unusual abundance of
nightingales in Nukha; there were also two in these bushes. In the
disturbance caused by Hadji Murad and his men as they rode into the
bushes the nightingales fell silent, but as the human noises ceased
the birds once more burst into song, calling and answering each
other. Hadji Murad, straining his ears to the sounds of the night,
The singing of the nightingales reminded him of the song of Hamzad
which he had heard the previous night when he went to get the water.
Any time now he could find himself in the same situation as Hamzad. It
struck him that it would indeed end like that and his mood suddenly
became serious! He spread out his cloak and said his prayers. He had
scarcely finished when sounds were heard coming towards the bushes. It
was the sound of a large number of horses' feet trampling through the
quagmire. The keen-eyed Khan-Mahoma ran to one edge of the bushes and
in the darkness picked out the black shadows of men on foot and on
horseback approaching the bushes. Khanefi saw another large group on
the other side. It was Karganov, the district commandant, with his
militia. We'll fight them as Hamzad did, thought Hadji Murad.
After the alarm was sounded Karganov had set off in hot pursuit of
Hadji Murad with a squadron of militia and Cossacks, but he could find
no sign of him or his tracks anywhere. Karganov had given up hope and
was on his way back when towards evening they came upon an old Tatar.
Karganov asked the old man if he had seen six horsemen. The old Tatar
said he had. He had seen six horsemen riding to and fro across the
rice-field and then go into the bushes where he collected firewood.
Taking the old man with him, Karganov had gone back along the road
and, seeing the hobbled horses, knew for certain that Hadji Murad was
there. So in the night he had the bushes surrounded and waited till
morning to take Hadji Murad dead or alive.
Realizing that he was surrounded, Hadji Murad discovered an old
ditch in the middle of the bushes where he decided to make his stand
and fight as long as he had ammunition and strength to do so. He told
his comrades and ordered them to raise a rampart along the ditch. His
nukers at once began cutting off branches and digging earth with their
daggers to make a bank. Hadji Murad joined in the work with them.
As soon as it began to get light the commander of the militia
squadron rode up close to the bushes and called out:
'Hey there, Hadji Murad! Surrender! You're outnumbered!'
By way of reply there was a puff of smoke from the ditch, the
crack of a rifle and a bullet struck the horse of one of the
militiamen, which shied and fell After this there was a rattle of
fire from the rifles of the militia positioned on the edge of the
bushes. Their bullets whistled and hummed, clipping the leaves and
branches and landing in the rampart, but none of them hit the men
behind. All they hit was Gamzalo's horse which had strayed off. It
was wounded in the head but did not fall; snapping its hobble, it
crashed through the bushes to the other horses, nestling against them
and spilling its blood on the young grass. Hadji Murad and his men
only fired when one of the militiamen showed himself and they seldom
missed. Three militiamen were wounded and their comrades not only
hesitated to charge Hadji Murad and his men, but dropped farther and
farther back, firing only random shots at long range.
This went on for over an hour. The sun had risen half-way up the
trees and Hadji Murad was just considering whether to mount and
attempt a break for the river when the shouts of a fresh large force
of men were heard. This was Hadji-Aha of Mekhtuli and his men. There
were about 200 of them. At one time Hadji-Aha had been a kunak of
Hadji Murad and lived with him in the mountains, but he had then gone
over to the Russians. With him was Akhmet-Khan, the son of Hadji
Murad's enemy. Hadji-Aha began as Karganov had done by calling on
Hadji Murad to surrender, but as on the first occasion Hadji Murad
replied with a shot.
'Out swords and at them!' cried Hadji-Aha, snatching his own from
its sheath, and there was a sound of hundreds of voices as men charged
shrieking into the bushes.
The militiamen got among the bushes, but several shots in
succession came cracking from the rampart. Three or four men fell and
the attackers halted. They now opened fire from the edge of the
bushes too. They fired and, running from bush to bush, gradually
edged towards the rampart. Some managed to get across, while others
fell to the bullets of Hadji Murad and his men. Hadji Murad never
missed; Gamzalo's aim was no less sure and he gave a delighted yelp
each time he saw his bullet strike home. Kurban sat by the edge of
the ditch chanting 'La ilaha illa allah '; he took his time in
firing, but rarely got a hit. Meanwhile, Eldar was quivering all over
in his impatience to rush the enemy with his dagger; he fired often
and at random, continually looking round at Hadji Murad and showing
himself above the rampart. The shaggy-haired Khanefi continued his
role as servant even here. With rolled up sleeves he reloaded the
guns as they were handed to him by Hadji Murad and Kurban, carefully
ramming home the bullets in oiled rags with an iron ram-rod and
priming the pans with dry powder from a horn. Khan-Mahoma did not
keep to the ditch like the others, but kept running across to the
horses to get them to a safer place, all the time shrieking and
casually firing without resting his gun. He was the first to be
wounded. He was struck by a bullet in the neck and collapsed
backwards spitting blood and cursing. Hadji Murad was wounded next. A
bullet went through his shoulder. He tore some wadding from his
jacket to plug the wound and went on firing..
'Let's rush them with our swords,' urged Eldar for the third time.
He rose above the rampart ready to charge the enemy, but was instantly
struck by a bullet. He staggered and fell backwards across Hadji
Murad's leg. Hadji Murad looked at him. His handsome sheep's eyes
stared earnestly up at him. His mouth, with its upper lip pouting like
a child's, quivered but did not open. Hadji Murad freed his leg and
went on taking aim. Khanefi bent over Eldar's dead body and quickly
began taking the unused cartridges from his cherkeska. Meanwhile
Kurban want on chanting, slowly loading and taking aim.
The enemy, whooping and screeching as they ran from bush to bush,
were getting nearer and nearer. Hadji Murad was hit by another bullet
in the left side. He lay down in the ditch and plugged the wound with
another piece of wadding from his jacket. This wound in his side was
mortal and he felt that he was dying. One after another images and
memories flashed through his mind. Now he saw the mighty Abununtsal
Khan clasping to his face his severed, hanging cheek and rush ing at
his enemies with dagger drawn; he saw Vorontsov, old, feeble and pale
with his sly, white face and heard his soft voice; he saw his son
Yusuf, Sofiat his wife, and the pale face, red beard and screwed up
eyes of his enemy Shamil.
And these memories running through his mind evoked no feelings in
him, no pity, ill-will or desire of any kind. It all seemed so
insignificant compared to what was now beginning and had already begun
for him. But his powerful body meanwhile continued what it had started
to do. Summoning the last remnants of his strength, he lifted himself
above the rampart and fired his pistol at a man running towards him.
He hit him and the man fell. Then he crawled completely out of the
ditch and, with his dagger drawn and limping badly, went straight at
the enemy. Several shots rang out. He staggered and fell. A number of
militiamen rushed with a triumphant yell towards his fallen body. But
what they supposed was a dead body suddenly stirred. First his
bloodstained, shaven head, its papakha gone, then his body lifted;
then, holding on to a tree, Hadji Murad pulled himself fully up. He
looked so terrifying that the advancing men stopped dead. But suddenly
he gave a shudder, staggered from the tree, and like a scythed thistle
fell full length on his face and moved no more.
He did not move, but could still feel, and when Hadji-Aha, the
first to reach him, struck him across the head with his great dagger,
he felt he was being hit on the head with a hammer and failed to
understand who was doing this and why. This was the last conscious
link with his body. He felt no more, and the object that was trampled
and slashed by his enemies had no longer any connection with him.
Hadji-Alla put a foot on the body's back, with two strokes hacked off
its head and rolled it carefully away with his foot so as not to get
blood on his boots. Blood gushed over the grass, scarlet from the
neck arteries, black from the head.
Karganov, Hadji-Aha, Aklmlet-Khan and the militiamen gathered over
the bodies of Hadji Murad and his men (Khanefi, Kurban and Gamzalo
were bound) like hunters over a dead beast, standing among the bushes
in the gunsmoke, gaily chatting and celebrating their victory.
The nightingales, which were silent while the shooting lasted,
again burst into Song, first one near by, then others in the distance.
This was the death that was brought to my mind by the crushed
thistle in the ploughed field.