Imatges de pÓgina


left us.

He shall go to Hamamlû : if he brings me the intelligence we want, nothing can prevent me from procuring both his pardon and his wife for him—if he proves a traitor, I get rid of him, and demand a reward from the Serdar, for restoring his fugitive slave. I called him to me, and posed the undertaking. Quicker than thought he seized all the different bearings of the question, and without hesitation accepted.of my proposal. He girt himself afresh, he tucked the skirts of his coat into his girdle, putting his cap on one side, and slinging his long gun at his back, he darted down the mountain's side, and we very soon lost him amid the sloping woods.

About an hour after midnight when the moon was about going down, a distant shout was heard-presently a second more distinctly and nearer to us. We were immediately upon the alert, and the shouts being repeated we could no longer doubt but that the Armenian was at hand. We then shouted in return, and not very long after we saw him appear. He was almost exhausted with fatigue, but still strong enough to be able to relate his adventures since he had

He informed me, that having reached Hamamlû he was recognised by some of the Russian soldiers who had escaped the attack of the Persians upon his village, and who immediately introduced him into the fort, and treated him very kindly. He was taken before the commanding officer, who questioned him narrowly upon the object of his visit; but the ready pretext which he advanced, of seeking his wife, answered every difficulty ; besides which the ruin of his village, the destruction of his family property, and the acquaintance which he had on the spot, furnished him with so much matter of conversation, that no suspicion of his designs could be entertained. He was then permitted to walk about the fort, and by asking his questions with prudence, and making his own observations, was 'enabled to furnish me with the information I required on the strength and position of the enemy, with some very good conjectures on the nature and probability of their future operations. He then managed to slip away unperceived before the gates of the place were closed, and regained the mountains without the smallest impediment.-Having permitted Yûsüf to refresh himself with food and rest, and being now perfectly satisfied that his story was', true, and that all confidence might be placed in his integrity, I ordered my party to hold themselves in readiness to return to Erivan. He was

permitted to ride behind either of the horsemen when tired with walking, and in this manner, taking the shortest cuts over the mountains, we regained the village of Ashtarek. Whilst we stopped here to refresh ourselves and horses, and to gain intelligence of the movements of the Serdar, and the chief executioner, I permitted the youth to visit his wife. He returned beaming with joy, for he had found her almost cured of her bruises, and full of thanks for the kindness and hospitality with which she had been treated. The Serdar and the chief executioner had moved from Erivan, and were now encamped close to the residence of the Armenian patriarch ; and thither we bent our steps. As we approached the monastery, I called Yûsûf to me, and told him to be in readiness whenever he should be called for, and be prepared to confirm any oath that I might think it necessary to take for his interests. He was particularly enjoined, when he came to talk of the services he had rendered, to deviate from the truth as much as he chose, to set forth every sort of danger he had or had not incurred, and in particular to score up an account of sums expended, all for the use and advantage of the Serdar, and of the Shah's government. “I hope at that rate,' said I to him, “your accounts may be balanced by having your wife restored to you ; for which, after considerable difficulty, you may agree to give a receipt in full of all demands.'

Yûsûf was ushered in with the shoves and thrusts by which a poor man of his nation is generally introduced before a Persian grandee; and he stood in face of the assem: bly as fine a specimen of manly beauty as was ever seen evidently creating much sensation upon all present by the intrepidity of his appearance. The Serdar, in particular, fixed his eyes upon him with looks of approbation; and, turning round to the executioner in chief, made signs, well known among Persians, of his great admiration. "Say, fellow,' exclaimed he, have you stolen my slave or not? If I am guilty,' said the youth, of having taken aught from any man save my own, here am I, ready to answer for myself with my life. She who threw herself out of your

windows into my arms was my wife before she was your slave. We are both the Shah's rayats, and it is best known to yourself if you can enslave them or no. We are Armenians, 'tis true, but we have the feelings of men. It is well known to

Go, my

all Persia, that our illustrious Shah has never forced the harem of even the meanest of his subjects; and, secure in that feeling, how could I ever suppose, most noble Serdar, that we should not receive the same protection under your government? You were certainly deceived when told that she was a Georgian prisoner; and had you known that she was the wife of one of your peasantry, you never would have made her your property.'—The Serdar, apparently struck by language so unusual to his ears, instead of appearing angry, on the contrary, looked delighted (if the looks of such a countenance could ever express delight); and, staring with astonished eyes upon the youth, seemed to forget even the reason of his having been brought before him. Of a sudden, he stopped all future discussion by saying to him, Enough, enough ; go take your wife, and say no more ; and, since you have rendered us a service at Hamamlû, you shall remain my servant, and wait upon my person. head valet will instruct you


duties; and when attired in clothes suited to your situation, you will return again to our presence. Go, and recollect that my condescension towards you depends upon your future conduct.' Upon this Yûsûf, in the fulness of his heart, ran up to him with great apparent gratitude, fell upon his knees, and kissed the hem of his garment, not knowing what to say, or what countenance to keep upon such unlooked-for good fortune.--Every one present seemed astonished. All congratulated the Serdar upon his humanity and benevolence, and compared him to the celebrated Noushirwan. Barikallah and Mushallah was repeated and echoed from mouth to mouth, and the story of his magnanimity was spread abroad, and formed the talk of the whole camp. I will not pretend to explain what were the Serdar's real sentiments; but those who well knew the man agreed, that he could be actuated by no generous motive.

My chief and the Serdar having acquired all the information which Yûsûf and I could give them upon the force and position of the Muscovites, it was determined that an attack should immediately be made, and the army was ordered to march

upon Hamamlû. I must not omit to say, that before the march began I received a visit from the Armenian. He was no longer, in appearance, the rude mountaineer, with his rough sheep-skin cap, his short Georgian tunic, his sandalled feet, his long knife hung over his knee, and his gun slung obliquely across his body ; but he was now at


tired in a long vest of crimson velvet, trimmed with gold lace and gold buttons, a beautiful Cashmerian shawl was tied gracefully round his waist; his small cap, of Bokhara lamb-skin, was duly indented at the top, and the two long curls behind his ears were combed out with all proper care. He had now more the appearance of a woman than a man, so much were his fine limbs hid by his robes ; and as he

approached me, he could not help blushing and looking awkward at the metamorphosis. He thanked me with expressions that indicated much gratitude, and assured me, that so far from having expected this result to his interview with the Serdar, he had, in fact, made up his mind to the loss of both his wife and life, and therefore had spoken with the boldness of one determined to die.'. But,' said he, notwithstanding this great change in my fortunes, this new existence of mine will never do. I cannot endure the degradation of being a mere idle appendage to the state of the Serdar; and be not angry if, ere long, I decline the honour of his service. I will submit to every thing as long as my wife is not in a place of safety ; but when once I have secured that, then adieu. Better live a swineherd, in the Georgian mountains, naked and houseless, than in all these silks and velvets, a despised hanger-on, be it even in the most luxurious court of Persia.' I could not help applauding such sentiments, although I should have been happy had he made any one else his confidant, conscious that if he did run away I should in some measure be made answerable for him.

I afterwards heard that when the Armenian had accomplished his project, the Serdar sent a party of men to Gavmishlû, to seize and bring before him Yûsûf's parents and kindred, with every thing that belonged to them; to take possession of their property, and to burn and destroy whatever they could not bring away: but the sagacious and active youth had foreseen this, and had taken his measures with such prudence and promptitude, that he had completely baffled the tyrant. He, his wife, his wife's relations, his own parents and family, with all their effects, had concerted one common plan of migration into the Russian territory. It had fully succeeded, as I afterwards heard, for they were received with great kindness, both by the government and by their own sect; lands were allotted, and every help afforded them for the re-establishment of their losses.



There lived, as I have heard, at Perugia, a young man named Andreuccio di Pietro, a dealer in horses, who, hearing of a good market at Naples, put five hundred florins of gold into his purse; and, having never been from home before, went with some other dealers, and arrived thither on a Sunday in the evening : and, according to the instruction he had received from his landlord, he went into the market next morning, where he saw many horses to his mind; cheapening their price as he went up and down, without coming to any bargain. But to show people that he came with an intent to buy, he unadvisedly pulled out his purse on all occasions ; insomuch that a certain Sicilian damsel (who was at every one's service for a small matter) got a sight of it, as she was passing along, without being observed by him : and she said to herself, “Who is there that would be my betters, if that purse were mine ?' and passed on. Along with her was an old woman, of Sicily likewise, who, as soon she saw Andreuccio, ran to embrace him ; which the young woman observing, without saying a word, stepped aside to wait for her. He immediately knew her, to her great joy, and without much discourse there, she having promised to come to his inn, he went on about his business, but bought nothing all that morning. The young woman taking notice first of the purse, and then of the old woman's knowledge of him, and contriying how to come at all or part of the money, began to en

* John Boccaccio, one of the revivers of lịterature in Europe, was the son of a Florence merchant, and born in 1313. He died at Certaldo, sin 1375, leaving behind him a variety of works in verse and prose, Latin and Italian, among which his DecAMERON has been by far the most popular, and the one, in fact, which has permanently established his name. • Hundred Novels' that compose it have furnished the groundwork for many of the most celebrated fictions in modern literature.


« AnteriorContinua »