"No, your Pashaship, I did nothink of the sort. I'm as hinnocent of that ewent as a new-born babe."
"Vat is your name?"
"Ha! your oder name."
"Ho! My name is Sanda Pasha. You have hear of me before?"
"Yes, on board the Turkish monitor."
"Just so; but before zat, I mean," said the Pasha, with a keen glance.
Lancey was a bold and an honest man. He would not condescend to prevaricate.
"I'm wery sorry, your—your Pashaship, but, to tell the plain truth, I never did 'ear of you before that."
"Well, zat matters not'ing. I do go now to sup vid von friend, Hamed Pasha he is called. You go vid me. Go, get ready."
Poor Lancey opened his eyes in amazement, and began to stammer something about having nothing to get ready with, and a mistake being made, but the Pasha cut him short with another "Go!" so imperative that he was fain to obey promptly.
Having no change of raiment, the perplexed man did his best by washing his face and hands, and giving his hair and clothes an extra brush, to make himself more fit for refined society. On being called to rejoin the Pasha, he began to apologise for the style of his dress, but the peremptory despot cut him short by leading the way to his carriage, in which they were driven to the konak or palace of Hamed Pasha.
They were shown into a richly-furnished apartment where Hamed was seated on a divan, with several friends, smoking and sipping brandy and water, for many of these eminent followers of the Prophet pay about as little regard to the Prophet's rules as they do to the laws of European society.
Hamed rose to receive his brother Pasha, and Lancey was amazed to find that he was a Nubian, with thick lips, flat nose, and a visage as black as coal. He was also of gigantic frame, insomuch that he dwarfed the rest of the company, including Lancey himself.
Hamed had raised himself from a low rank in society to his present high position by dint of military ability, great physical strength, superior intelligence, reckless courage, and overflowing animal spirits. When Sanda Pasha entered he was rolling his huge muscular frame on the divan, and almost weeping with laughter at something that had been whispered in his ear by a dervish who sat beside him.
Sanda introduced Lancey as an Englishman, on hearing which the black Pasha seized and wrung his hands, amid roars of delight, and torrents of remarks in Turkish, while he slapped him heartily on the shoulder. Then, to the amazement of Lancey, he seized him by the collar of his coat, unbuttoned it, and began to pull it off. This act was speedily explained by the entrance of an attendant with a pale blue loose dressing-gown lined with fur, which the Pasha made his English guest put on, and sit down beside him.
Having now thoroughly resigned himself to the guidance of what his Turkish friends styled "fate," Lancey did his best to make himself agreeable, and gave himself up to the enjoyment of the hour.
There were present in the room, besides those already mentioned, a Turkish colonel of cavalry and a German doctor who spoke Turkish fluently. The party sat down to supper on cushions round a very low table. The dervish, Hadji Abderhaman, turned out to be a gourmand, as well as a witty fellow and a buffoon. The Pasha always gave the signal to begin to each dish, and between courses the dervish told stories from the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, or uttered witticisms which kept the Nubian Pasha in roars of laughter. They were all very merry, for the host was fond of boisterous fun and practical jokes, while his guests were sympathetic. Lancey laughed as much as any of them, for although he could not, despite his previous studies, follow the conversation, he could understand the pantomime, and appreciated the viands highly. His red-bearded friend also came to his aid now and then with a few explanatory remarks in broken English.
At such times the host sat with a beaming smile on his black face, and his huge mouth half-expanded, looking from one to another, as if attempting to understand, and ready at a moment's notice to explode in laughter, or admiration, or enthusiasm, according to circumstances.
"Hamed Pasha wants to know if you is in do army," said Sanda Pasha.
"Not in the regulars," replied Lancey, "but I 'ave bin, in the militia."
The Nubian gave another roar of delight when this was translated, and extended his great hand to one whom he thenceforth regarded as a brother-in-arms. Lancey grasped and shook it warmly.
"Let the Englishman see your sword," said Sanda in Turkish to Hamed.
Sanda knew his friend's weak point. The sword was at once ordered in for inspection.
Truly it was a formidable weapon, which might have suited the fist of Goliath, and was well fitted for the brawny arm that had waved it aloft many a time in the smoke and din of battle. It was blunt and hacked on both edges with frequent use, but its owner would not have it sharpened on any account, asserting that a stout arm did not require a keen weapon.
While the attention of the company was taken up with this instrument of death, the dervish availed himself of the opportunity to secure the remains of a dish of rich cream, to which he had already applied himself more than once.
The Nubian observed the sly and somewhat greedy act with a twinkling eye. When the dervish had drained the dish, the host filled a glass full to the brim with vinegar, and, with fierce joviality, bade him drink it. The poor man hesitated, and said something about wine and a mistake, but the Pasha repeated "Drink!" with such a roar, and threw his sword down at the same time with such a clang on the marble floor, that the dervish swallowed the draught with almost choking celerity.
The result was immediately obvious on his visage; nevertheless he bore up bravely, and even cut a sorry joke at his own expense, while the black giant rolled on his divan, and the tears ran down his swarthy cheeks.
The dervish was an adventurer who had wandered about the country as an idle vagabond until the war broke out, when he took to army-contracting with considerable success. It was in his capacity of contractor that he became acquainted with the boisterous black Pasha, who greatly appreciated his low but ready wit, and delighted in tormenting him. On discovering that the dervish was a voracious eater, he pressed—I might say forced—him with savage hospitality to eat largely of every dish, so that, when pipes were brought after supper, the poor dervish was more than satisfied.
"Now, you are in a fit condition to sing," cried Hamed, slapping the over-fed man on the shoulder; "come, give us a song: the Englishman would like to hear one of your Arabian melodies."
Redbeard translated this to Lancey, who protested that, "nothink would afford 'im greater delight."
The dervish was not easily overcome. Despite his condition, he sang, well and heartily, a ditty in Arabic, about love and war, which the Nubian Pasha translated into Turkish for the benefit of the German doctor, and Sanda Pasha rendered into broken English for Lancey.
But the great event of the evening came, when the English guest, in obedience to a call, if not a command, from his host, sang an English ballad. Lancey had a sweet and tuneful voice, and was prone to indulge in slow pathetic melodies. The black Pasha turned out to be intensely fond of music, and its effect on his emotional spirit was very powerful. At the first bar of his guest's flowing melody his boisterous humour vanished: his mouth and eyes partly opened with a look of pleased surprise; he evidently forgot himself and his company, and when, although unintelligible to him, the song proceeded in more touching strains, his capacious chest began to heave and his eyes filled with tears. The applause, not only of the host, but the company, was loud and emphatic, and Lancey was constrained to sing again. After that the colonel sang a Turkish war-song. The colonel's voice was a tremendous bass, and he sang with such enthusiasm that the hearers were effectively stirred. Hamed, in particular, became wild with excitement. He half-suited his motions, while beating time, to the action of each verse, and when, as a climax in the last verse, the colonel gave the order to "charge!" Hamed uttered a roar, sprang up, seized his great sabre, and caused it to whistle over his friends with a sweep that might have severed the head of an elephant!
At this point, one of the attendants, who appeared to be newly appointed to his duties, and who had, more than once during the feast, attracted attention by his stupidity, shrank in some alarm from the side of his wild master and tumbled over a cushion.
Hamed glared at him for a moment, with a frown that was obviously not put on, and half-raised the sabre as if about to cut him down. Instantly the frown changed to a look of contempt, and almost as quickly was replaced by a gleam of fun.
"Stand forth," said Hamed, dropping the sabre and sitting down.
The man obeyed with prompt anxiety.
"Mustapha," repeated the Pasha, "I observe that you are a capable young fellow. You are a man of weight, as the marble floor can testify. I appoint you to the office of head steward. Go, stand up by the door."
The man made a low obeisance and went.
"Let the household servants and slaves pass before their new superior and do him honour."
With promptitude, and with a gravity that was intensely ludicrous—for none dared to smile in the presence of Hamed Pasha—the servants of the establishment, having been summoned, filed before the new steward and bowed to him. This ceremony over, Mustapha was ordered to go and make a list of the poultry. The poor man was here obliged to confess that he could not write.
"You can draw?" demanded the Pasha fiercely.
With some hesitation the steward admitted that he could—"a little."
"Go then, draw the poultry, every cock and hen and chicken," said the Pasha, with a wave of his hand which dismissed the household servants and sent the luckless steward to his task.
After this pipes were refilled, fresh stories were told, and more songs were sung. After a considerable time Mustapha returned with a large sheet of paper covered with hieroglyphics. The man looked timid as he approached and presented it to his master.
The Pasha seized the sheet. "What have we here?" he demanded sternly.
The man said it was portraits of the cocks and hens.
"Ha!" exclaimed the Pasha, "a portrait-gallery of poultry—eh!"
He held the sheet at arm's-length, and regarded it with a fierce frown; but his lips twitched, and suddenly relaxed into a broad grin, causing a tremendous display of white teeth and red gums.
"Poultry! ha! just so. What is this?"
He pointed to an object with a curling tail, which Mustapha assured him was a cock.
"What! a cock? where is the comb? Who ever heard of a cock without a comb, eh? And that, what is that?"
Mustapha ventured to assert that it was a chicken.
"A chicken," cried the Pasha fiercely; "more like a dromedary. You rascal! did you not say that you could draw? Go! deceiver, you are deposed. Have him out and set him to cleanse the hen-house, and woe betide you if it is not as clean as your own conscience before to-morrow morning—away!"
The Pasha shouted the last word, and then fell back in fits of laughter; while the terrified man fled to the hen-house, and drove its occupants frantic in his wild attempts to cleanse their Augean stable.
It was not until midnight that Sanda Pasha and Lancey, taking leave of Hamed and his guests, returned home.
"Come, follow me," said the Pasha, on entering the palace.
He led Lancey to the room in which they had first met, and, seating himself on a divan, lighted his chibouk.
"Sit down," he said, pointing to a cushion that lay near him on the marble floor.
Lancey, although unaccustomed to such a low seat, obeyed.
"Smoke," said the Pasha, handing a cigarette to his guest.
Lancey took the cigarette, but at this point his honest soul recoiled from the part he seemed to be playing. He rose, and, laying the cigarette respectfully on the ground, said—
"Sanda Pasha, it's not for the likes o' me to be sittin' 'ere smokin' with the likes o' you, sir. There's some mistake 'ere, hobviously. I've been treated with the consideration doo to a prince since I fell into the 'ands of the Turks, and it is right that I should at once correct this mistake, w'ich I'd 'ave done long ago if I could 'ave got the Turks who've 'ad charge of me to understand Hinglish. I'm bound to tell you, sir, that I'm on'y a groom in a Hinglish family, and makes no pretence to be hanythink else, though circumstances 'as putt me in a false position since I come 'ere. I 'ope your Pashaship won't think me ungracious, sir, but I can't a-bear to sail under false colours."
To this speech Sanda Pasha listened with profound gravity, and puffed an enormous cloud from his lips at its conclusion.
"Sit down," he said sternly.
"Light your cigarette."
There was a tone of authority in the Pasha's voice which Lancey did not dare to resist. He lighted the cigarette.
"Look me in the face," said the Pasha suddenly, turning his piercing grey eyes full on him guest.
Supposing that this was a prelude to an expression of doubt as to his honesty, Lancey did look the Pasha full in the face, and returned his stare with interest.
"Do you see this cut over the bridge of my nose?" demanded the Pasha.
Lancey saw it, and admitted that it must have been a bad one.
"And do you see the light that is blazing in these two eyes?" he added, pointing to his own glowing orbs with a touch of excitement.
Lancey admitted that he saw the light, and began to suspect that the Pasha was mad. At the same time he was struck by the sudden and very great improvement in his friend's English.
"But for you," continued the Pasha, partly raising himself, "that cut had never been, and the light of those eyes would now be quenched in death!"
The Pasha looked at his guest more fixedly than ever, and Lancey, now feeling convinced of his entertainer's madness, began to think uneasily of the best way to humour him.
"Twenty years ago," continued the Pasha slowly and with a touch of pathos in his tone, "I received this cut from a boy in a fight at school," (Lancey thought that the boy must have been a bold fellow), "and only the other day I was rescued by a man from the waters of the Danube." (Lancey thought that, on the whole, it would have been well if the man had left him to drown.) "The name of the boy and the name of the man was the same. It was Jacob Lancey!"
Lancey's eyes opened and his lower jaw dropped. He sat on his cushion aghast.
"Jacob Lancey," continued the Pasha in a familiar tone that sent a thrill to the heart of his visitor, "hae ye forgotten your auld Scotch freen' and school-mate Sandy? In Sanda Pasha you behold Sandy Black!"
Lancey sprang to his knees—the low couch rendering that attitude natural—grasped the Pasha's extended hand, and gazed wistfully into his eyes.
"Oh Sandy, Sandy!" he said, in a voice of forced calmness, while he shook his head reproachfully, "many and many a time 'ave I prophesied that you would become a great man, but little did I think that you'd come to this—a May'omedan and a Turk."
Unable to say more, Lancey sat down on his cushion, clasped his hands over his knees, and gazed fixedly at his old friend and former idol.
"Lancey, my boy—it is quite refreshing to use these old familiar words again,—I am no more a Mohammedan than you are."
"Then you're a 'ypocrite," replied the other promptly.
"By no means,—at least I hope not," said the Pasha, with a smile and a slightly troubled look. "Surely there is a wide space between a thoroughly honest man and an out-and-out hypocrite. I came here with no religion at all. They took me by the hand and treated me kindly. Knowing nothing, I took to anything they chose to teach me. What could a youth do? Now I am what I am, and I cannot change it."
Lancey knew not what to reply to this. Laying his hand on the rich sleeve of the Pasha he began in the old tone and in the fulness of his heart.
"Sandy, my old friend, as I used to all but worship, nominal May'omedan though you be, it's right glad I am to—" words failed him here.
"Well, well," said the Pasha, smiling, and drawing a great cloud from his chibouk, "I'm as glad as yourself, and not the less so that I've been able to do you some small service in the way of preventing your neck from being stretched; and that brings me to the chief point for which I have brought you to my palace, namely, to talk about matters which concern yourself, for it is obvious that you cannot remain in this country in time of war with safety unless you have some fixed position. Tell me, now, where you have been and what doing since we last met in Scotland, and I will tell you what can be done for you in Turkey."
Hereupon Lancey began a long-winded and particular account of his life during the last twenty years. The Pasha smoked and listened with grave interest. When the recital was finished he rose.
"Now, Lancey," said he, "it is time that you and I were asleep. In the morning I have business to attend to. When it is done we will continue our talk. Meanwhile let me say that I see many little ways in which you can serve the Turks, if you are so minded."
"Sandy Black," said Lancey, rising with a look of dignity, "you are very kind—just what I would 'ave expected of you—but you must clearly understand that I will serve only in works of 'umanity. In a milingtary capacity I will serve neither the Turks nor the Roossians."
"Quite right, my old friend, I will not ask military service of you, so good-night. By the way, it may be as well to remind you that, except between ourselves, I am not Sandy Black but Sanda Pasha,—you understand?"
With an arch smile the Pasha laid down his chibouk and left the room, and the black attendant conducted Lancey to his bedroom. The same attendant took him, the following morning after breakfast, to the Pasha's "Selamlik" or "Place of Salutations," in order that he might see how business matters were transacted in Turkey.
The Selamlik was a large handsome room filled with men, both with and without turbans, who had come either to solicit a favour or a post, or to press on some private business. On the entrance of the Pasha every one rose. When he was seated, there began a curious scene of bowing to the ground and touching, by each person present, of the mouth and head with the hand. This lasted full five minutes.
Sanda Pasha then received a number of business papers from an officer of the household, to which he applied himself with great apparent earnestness, paying no attention whatever to his visitors. Lancey observed, however, that his absorbed condition did not prevent a few of these visitors, apparently of superior rank, from approaching and whispering in his ear. To some of them he was gracious, to others cool, as they severally stated the nature of their business. No one else dared to approach until the reading of the papers was finished. Suddenly the Pasha appeared to get weary of his papers. He tossed them aside, ordered his carriage, rose hastily, and left the room. But this uncourteous behaviour did not appear to disconcert those who awaited his pleasure. Probably, like eels, they had got used to rough treatment. Some of them ran after the Pasha and tried to urge their suits in a few rapid sentences, others went off with a sigh or a growl, resolving to repeat the visit another day, while Sanda himself was whirled along at full speed to the Sublime Porte, to hold council with the Ministers of State on the arrangements for the war that had by that time begun to rage along the whole line of the Lower Danube—the Russians having effected a crossing in several places.
After enjoying himself for several days in the palace of his old school-mate, my worthy servant, being resolved not to quit the country until he had done his utmost to discover whether I was alive or drowned, accepted the offer of a situation as cook to one of the Turkish Ambulance Corps. Having received a suitable change of garments, with a private pass, and recommendations from the Pasha, he was despatched with a large body of recruits and supplies to the front.
Note 1. A similar establishment to this was, not long ago, described by the "correspondent" of a well-known Journal.
REFERS TO TWO IMPORTANT LETTERS, AND A SECRET MISSION.
It is a curious coincidence that, about the very time when my servant was appointed to serve in the Turkish Ambulance Corps, I received permission to act as a surgeon in the Russian army. Through the influence of Nicholas Naranovitsch, I was attached to his own regiment, and thus enjoyed the pleasure of his society for a considerable time after the breaking out of the war.
I preferred this course to that of returning home, because, first, I could not bear the thought of leaving the country without making every possible exertion to ascertain the fate of my yacht's crew, and rendering them succour if possible; and, secondly, because I felt an irresistible desire to alleviate, professionally, the sufferings of those who were certain to be wounded during the war. I also experienced much curiosity to know something more of the power and influence of modern war-engines. Perhaps some people will think this latter an unworthy motive. It may have been so; I cannot tell. All I can say is that it was a very secondary one, and would not, of itself, have been sufficient to induce me to remain for an hour to witness the horrors and carnage of battle-fields. Still, putting the various motives together, I felt justified in remaining.
In order that I might render still more effective service to the cause of humanity, I wrote, immediately after my appointment as surgeon, to an intimate friend, north of the Tweed, offering my services as war correspondent to a paper of which he was editor, namely, the Scottish Bawbee.
That celebrated journal,—well known on the east, west, and north coasts of Scotland, and extensively circulated in the centre and south of the country, including England,—is liberal in its principles, conservative in reference only to things that are good, and violently radical when treating of those that are bad. It enjoys the credit of being curt in its statements, brief in the expression of its opinions, perfectly silent in reference to its surmises, distinctly repudiative of the gift of prophecy, consistently averse to the attribution of motives, persistently wise in giving the shortest possible account of murders and scandalous cases, and copious in its references to literature, art, and religious progress, besides being extremely methodical in its arrangement.
In regard to the latter quality, I cannot refrain from referring to its sensible mode of treating births, marriages, and deaths, by putting the Christian and surname of the born, married, or defunct as the first words in each announcement, so that one's digestion at breakfast is aided by reading with some comfort of the joys and sorrows of one's friends, instead of having incipient dyspepsia engendered by a painful search for the main facts in confusing sentences.
The editor's reply came by return of post. It contained the acceptance of my services, and a proposal of extremely liberal terms, allowing me, besides a handsome retaining fee, two horses, and such travelling attendants as might be found necessary. There were also certain emphatic stipulations which are worth recording. I was not, on any pretext whatever, to attempt the divination, much less the revelation, of the future. I was never, upon any consideration, to be seduced into lengthy descriptions of things that I did not see, or minute particulars about matters which I did not know. I was utterly to ignore, and refuse to be influenced by, personal predilections or prejudices in regard to either combatant. I was to say as little about scenery as was consistent with a correct delineation of the field of war, and never to venture on sentimental allusions to sunsets, moonlights, or water-reflections of any kind. I was not to forget that a newspaper was a vehicle for the distribution of news, the announcement of facts and the discussion thereof, not a medium for the dissemination of fancies and fiddlededee. Above all, I was never to write a column and a half of speculation as to the possible and probable movements of armies; to be followed "in our next" by two columns of the rumoured movements of armies; to be continued "in our next" by two columns and a half of the actual movements of armies; to wind up "in our next" with three columns of retrospective consideration as to what might, could, would, or should have been the movements of armies; but that I was, on the contrary, to bear in remembrance the adage about "brevity" being the "soul of wit," and, when I had nothing to write, to write nothing. By so doing, it was added, I should please the editor and charm the public, one of whose minor griefs is, as regards newspapers, that it is brought into a state of disgust with every event of this life long before it has happened, and thoroughly nauseated with it long after it is past,—to say nothing of the resulting mental confusion.
In case any gentleman of the press should feel injured by these statements, I must remind him that I am not responsible for them. They are the sentiments of the Scottish Bawbee, which must be taken for what they are worth. It is true, I heartily agree with them, but that is an entirely different subject, on which I do not enter.
I readily agreed to fall in with the wishes of the editor, and thenceforward devoted myself, heart and soul, to correspondence and surgery. In both fields of labour I found ample scope for all the powers of body and mind that I possessed.
Just about this time I received a letter from my dear mother, who was aware of my plans. It cost me some anxiety, as it was utterly impossible that I should comply with the injunctions it contained. "Jeffry, my dear boy," she wrote, "let me entreat you, with all the solemnity of maternal solicitude, to take care of your health. Let Russians and Turks kill and expose themselves as they please, but ever bear in remembrance that it is your duty to avoid danger. Whatever you do, keep your feet dry and your—I need not go further into particulars; medical allusions cannot always be couched in language such as one desires. Never sleep on damp ground, nor, if possible, without a roof or a covering of some sort over your head. Even a parasol is better than nothing. If, despite your precautions, you should catch cold, tie a worsted sock—one of the red and black striped ones I have knitted for you—round your neck, and take one drop of aconite—only one, remember— before going to bed. I know how, with your allopathic notions, you will smile at this advice, but I assure you, as your mother, that it will prove an infallible cure. Never sit in a draught when you can avoid it. If you ever come under fire, which I trust you never may, be sure to get behind a house, or a wall, or a stone, if possible; if you cannot do so, get behind a soldier, one larger than yourself would be preferable of course, but if you have not the opportunity of doing this, then turn your side to the enemy, because in that position you are a much narrower target, and more likely to escape their bullets. I need not caution you not to run away. I would rather see you, dear boy, in a premature grave, than hear that you had run away. But you could not run away. No Childers ever did so—except from school.
"Let the phial of globules which I gave you at parting be your bosom friends, till their friendship is required in another and a lower region. They are a sovereign remedy against rheumatism, catarrh, bronchitis, dyspepsia, lumbago, nervous affections, headaches, loss of memory, debility, monomania, melancholia, botherolia, theoretica, and, in short, all the ills that flesh is heir to, if only taken in time."
It struck me, as I folded my mother's letter and that of the editor, that there never was a man who went into any course of action better guarded and advised than myself. At the moment when this thought occurred to me, my friend Nicholas burst into my room in a state of unusual excitement.
"Come, Jeff," he said, "I'm detailed for another secret duty. People seem to have inordinate faith in me, for all my duties are secret! Are you willing to go with me?"
"Go where?" I asked.
"That I may not tell," he replied; "anywhere, or nowhere, or everywhere. All I can say is, that if you go, it will be to act as surgeon to a squadron of cavalry. I see you have letters. Good news from home—eh? What of Bella?"
"Yes" I replied, "good news and good advice—listen."
I reopened the letters and read them aloud.
"Capital!" exclaimed Nicholas, "just the thing for you. No doubt my expedition will furnish a column and a half, if not more, of unquestionable facts for the Scottish Bawbee. Get ready, my boy; I start in half-an-hour."
He swung off in the same hearty, reckless manner with which he had entered; and I immediately set about packing up my surgical instruments and note-books, and making other preparations for a journey of unknown extent and duration.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE OF ACTUAL WAR, AND MY THOUGHTS THEREON.
We set out by the light of the moon. Our party consisted of a small force of Russian light cavalry. The officer in command was evidently well acquainted with our route, for he rode smartly ahead without hesitation or sign of uncertainty for several hours.
At first Nicholas and I conversed in low tones as we cantered side by side over hill and dale, but as the night advanced we became less communicative, and finally dropped into silence. As I looked upon village and hamlet, bathed in the subdued light, resting in quietness and peace, I thought sadly of the evils that war would surely bring upon many an innocent and helpless woman and child.
It was invariably in this course that my thoughts about war flowed. I was, indeed, quite alive to the national evils of war, and I will not admit that any man-of-peace feels more sensitively than I do the fact that, in war, a nation's best, youngest, and most hopeful blood is spilled, while its longest lives and most ardent spirits are ruthlessly, uselessly sacrificed—its budding youths, its strapping men, its freshest and most muscular, to say nothing of mental, manhood. Still, while contemplating war and its consequences, I have always been much more powerfully impressed with the frightful consequences to women and children, than anything else. To think of our wives, our little ones, our tender maidens, our loving matrons, and our poor helpless babes, being exposed to murder, rapine, torture, and all the numerous and unnameable horrors of war, for the sake of some false, some fanciful, some utterly ridiculous and contemptible idea, such as the connection of one or two provinces of a land with this nation or with that, or the "integrity of a foreign empire," has always filled me with sensations of indignation approaching to madness, not unmingled, I must add, with astonishment.
That savages will fight among themselves is self-evident; that Christian nations shall defend themselves from the assaults of savages is also obvious; but that two Christian nations should go to war for anything, on any ground whatever, is to my mind inexplicable and utterly indefensible.
Still, they do it. From which circumstance I am forced to conclude that the Christianity as well as the civilisation and common-sense of one or the other of such nations is, for the time, in abeyance.
Of course I was not perplexed in regard to the Turks. Their religion is not Christian. Moreover, it was propagated by the sword, and teaches coercion in religious matters; but I could not help feeling that the Russians were too ready to forsake diplomacy and take to war.
"My dear fellow," said Nicholas, rousing himself, when I stated my difficulty, "don't you see that the vacillating policy of England has driven us to war in spite of ourselves? She would not join the rest of Europe in compelling Turkey to effect reforms which she—Turkey—had promised to make, so that nothing else was left for us but to go to war."
"My dear fellow," I retorted, somewhat hotly, "that Turkey has behaved brutally towards its own subjects is a well-known fact. That she has treated the representatives of all the great powers of Europe with extreme insolence is another well-known fact, but it is yet to be proved that the efforts of diplomacy were exhausted, and even if they were, it remained for Europe, not for Russia, to constitute herself the champion of the oppressed."
"Jeff, my boy," returned Nicholas, with a smile, "I'm too sleepy to discuss that subject just now, further than to say that I don't agree with you."
He did indeed look sleepy, and as we had been riding many hours I forbore to trouble him further.
By daybreak that morning we drew near to the town of Giurgevo, on the Roumanian—or, I may say, the Russian—side of the Danube, and soon afterwards entered it.
Considerable excitement was visible among its inhabitants, who, even at that early hour, were moving hurriedly about the streets. Having parted from our escort, Nicholas and I refreshed ourselves at the Hotel de l'Europe, and then went to an hospital, where my companion wished to visit a wounded friend—"one," he said, "who had lately taken part in a dashing though unsuccessful expedition."
This visit to Giurgevo was my first introduction to some of the actual miseries of war. The hospital was a clean, well-ventilated building. Rows of low beds were ranged neatly and methodically along the whitewashed walls. These were tenanted by young men in every stage of suffering and exhaustion. With bandaged heads or limbs they sat or reclined or lay, some but slightly wounded and still ruddy with the hue of health on their young cheeks; some cut and marred in visage and limbs, with pale cheeks and blue lips, that told of the life-blood almost drained. Others were lying flat on their backs, with the soft brown moustache or curly brown hair contrasting terribly with the grey hue of approaching death.
In one of the beds we found the friend of Nicholas.
He was quite a youth, not badly wounded, and received us with enthusiasm.
"My dear Nicholas," he said, in reply to a word of condolence about the failure of the expedition, "you misunderstand the whole matter. Doubtless it did not succeed, but that was no fault of ours, and it was a glorious attempt. Come, I will relate it. Does your friend speak Russian?"
"He at all events understands it," said I.
On this assurance the youth raised his hand to his bandaged brow as if to recall events, and then related the incident, of which the following is the substance.
While the Russians were actively engaged in preparing to cross the Danube at a part where the river is full of small islands, the Turks sent monitors and gunboats to interrupt the operations. The Russians had no vessels capable of facing the huge ironclads of the enemy. Of the ten small boats at the place, eight were engaged in laying torpedoes in the river to protect the works, and two were detailed to watch the enemy. While they were all busily at work, the watchers in a boat named the Schootka heard the sound of an approaching steamer, and soon after descried a Turkish gunboat steaming up the river. Out went the little Schootka like a wasp, with a deadly torpedo at the end of her spar. The gun-boat saw and sought to evade her, put on full steam and hugged the Turkish shore, where some hundreds of Circassian riflemen kept up an incessant fire on the Russian boat. It was hit, and its commander wounded, but the crew and the second in command resolved to carry out the attack. The Schootka increased her speed, and, to the consternation of the Turks, succeeded in touching the gun-boat just behind the paddle-boxes, but the torpedo refused to explode, and the Schootka was compelled to haul off, and make for shelter under a heavy fire from the gun-boat and the Circassian riflemen, which quite riddled her. While she was making off a second Turkish gun-boat hove in sight. The Schootka had still another torpedo on board, one on the Harvey principle. This torpedo may be described as a somewhat square and flat case, charged with an explosive compound. When used it is thrown into the sea and runs through the water on its edge, being held in that position by a rope and caused to advance by pulling on it sidewise. Anglers will understand this when I state that it works on the principle of the "otter," and, somewhat like the celebrated Irish pig going to market, runs ahead the more it is pulled back by the tail. With this torpedo the daring Russians resolved to attack the second gunboat, but when they threw it overboard it would not work; something had gone wrong with its tail, or with the levers by which, on coming into contact with the enemy, it was to explode. They were compelled therefore to abandon the attempt, and seek shelter from the Turkish fire behind an island.
"So then," said I, on quitting the hospital, "torpedoes, although terrible in their action, are not always certain."
"Nothing is always certain," replied Nicholas, with a smile, "except the flight of time, and as the matter on which I have come requires attention I must now leave you for a few hours. Don't forget the name of our hotel. That secure in a man's mind, he may lose himself in any town or city with perfect safety—au revoir."
For some time I walked about the town. The morning was bright and calm, suggesting ideas of peace; nevertheless my thoughts could not be turned from the contemplation of war, and as I wandered hither and thither, looking out for reminiscences of former wars, I thought of the curiously steady way in which human history repeats itself. It seems to take about a quarter of a century to teach men to forget or ignore the lessons of the past and induce them to begin again to fight. Here, in 1829, the Russians levelled the fortifications which at that time encircled the town; here, in 1854, the Russians were defeated by the Turks; and here, in 1872, these same Russians and Turks were at the same old bloody and useless game—ever learning, yet never coming to a knowledge of the great truth, that, with all their fighting, nothing has been gained and nothing accomplished save a few changes of the men on the chess-board, and the loss of an incalculable amount of life and treasure.
As the day advanced it became very sultry. Towards the afternoon I stopped and gazed thoughtfully at the placid Danube, which, flowing round the gentle curve of Slobosia, reflected in its glittering waters the white domes and minarets of the opposite town of Rustchuk. A low, rumbling sound startled me just then from a reverie. On looking up I perceived a small puff of smoke roll out in the direction of the Turkish shore. Another and another succeeded, and after each shot a smaller puff of smoke was seen to hang over the Turkish batteries opposite.
A strange conflicting rush of feelings came over me, for I had awakened from dreaming of ancient battles to find myself in the actual presence of modern war. The Russian had opened fire, and their shells were bursting among the Turks. These latter were not slow to reply. Soon the rumbling increased to thunder, and I was startled by hearing a tremendous crash not far distant from me, followed by a strange humming sound. The crash was the bursting of a Turkish shell in one of the streets of the town, and the humming sound was the flying about of ragged bits of iron. From the spot on which I stood I could see the havoc it made in the road, while men, women, and children were rushing in all directions out of its way.
Two objects lay near the spot, however, which moved, although they did not flee. One was a woman, the other a boy; both were severely wounded.
I hurried through the town in the direction of the Red-Cross hospital, partly expecting that I might be of service there, and partly in the hope of finding Nicholas. As I went I heard people remarking excitedly on the fact that the Turks were firing at the hospital.
The bombardment became furious, and I felt an uncomfortable disposition to shrink as I heard and saw shot and shell falling everywhere in the streets, piercing the houses, and bursting in them. Many of these were speedily reduced to ruins.
People hurried from their dwellings into the streets, excited and shouting. Men rushed wildly to places of shelter from the deadly missiles, and soon the cries and wailing of women over the dead and wounded increased the uproar. This was strangely and horribly contrasted with the fiendish laughter of a group of boys, who, as yet unhurt, and scarcely alive to the real nature of what was going on, had taken shelter in an archway, from which they darted out occasionally to pick up the pieces of shells that burst near them.
These poor boys, however, were not good judges of shelter-places in such circumstances. Just as I passed, a shell fell and burst in front of the archway, and a piece of it went singing so close past my head that I fancied at the first moment it must have hit me. At the same instant the boys uttered an unearthly yell of terror and fled from under the archway, where I saw one of their number rolling on the ground and shrieking in agony.
Hastening to his assistance, I found that he had received a severe flesh wound in the thigh. I carried him into a house that seemed pretty well protected from the fire, dressed his wound, and left him in charge of the inmates, who, although terribly frightened, were kind and sympathetic.
Proceeding through the marketplace, I observed a little girl crouching in a doorway, her face as pale as if she were dead, her lips perfectly white, and an expression of extreme horror in her eyes. I should probably have passed her, for even in that short sharp walk I had already seen so many faces expressing terror that I had ceased to think of stopping, but I observed a stream of blood on her light-coloured dress.
Stooping down, I asked—
"Are you hurt, dear?"
Twice I repeated the question before she appeared to understand me; then, raising a pair of large lustrous but tearless eyes to my face, she uttered the single word "Father," and pointed to something that lay in the gloom of the passage beyond her. I entered, lifted the corner of a piece of coarse canvas, and under it saw the form of a man, but there was no countenance. His head had been completely shattered by a shell. Replacing the canvas, I returned to the child. Her right hand was thrust into her bosom, and as she held it there in an unnatural position, I suspected something, and drew it gently out. I was right. It had been struck, and the middle finger was hanging by a piece of skin. A mere touch of my knife was sufficient to sever it. As I bandaged the stump, I tried to console the poor child. She did not appear to care for the pain I unavoidably caused her, but remained quite still, only saying now and then, in a low voice, "Father," as she looked with her tearless eyes at the heap that lay in the passage.
Giving this hapless little one in charge of a woman who seemed to be an inhabitant of the same building, I hurried away, but had not gone a hundred yards when I chanced to meet Nicholas.
"Ha! well met, my boy!" he exclaimed, evidently in a state of suppressed excitement; "come along. I expected to have had a long hunt after you, but fortune favours me, and we have not a moment to lose."
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Just think," he said, seizing my arm and hurrying me along, but taking no heed of my question; "we are fairly over the Danube in force! The night before last three thousand men, Cossacks and infantry, crossed from Galatz in boats and rafts, and gained the heights above Matchin. Zoukoff has beaten the enemy everywhere, and Zimmermann is reported to have driven them out of Matchin—in fact we have fairly broken the ice, and all that we have now to do is to go in and win."
I saw by the flush on his handsome countenance that the martial ardour of Nicholas was stirred to its depths. There was a noble look of daring in his clear grey eye, and a smile of what seemed like joy on his lips, which I knew well were the expression of such sentiments as love of country, desire to serve, like a brave son, that Emperor whom he regarded as a father, hatred of oppression, belief in the righteousness of the cause for which he fought, and delight in the prospect of wild animal excitement. He was full of high hopes, noble aspirations, superabundant energy, and, although not a deep thinker, could tell better than most men, by looking at it, whether the edge of a grindstone were rough or smooth.
We walked smartly to our hotel, but found that our servant had fled, no one knew whither, taking our horses with him. The landlord, however, suggested the railway station, and thither we ran.
A train was entering when we arrived. It was full of Russian soldiers. On the platform stood a Jew, to whom Nicholas addressed himself. The Jew at first seemed to have difficulty in understanding him, but he ultimately said that he had seen a man who must be the one we were in search of, and was about to tell us more, when a Turkish shell burst through the roof of the station, and exploded on the platform, part of which it tore up, sending splinters of iron and wood in all directions. The confused noise of shout and yell that followed, together with the smoke, prevented my observing for a moment or two what damage had been done, but soon I ascertained that Nicholas and myself were unhurt; that the Jew had been slightly wounded, and also several of the people who were waiting the arrival of the train.
The groans of some of the wounded, and the cursing and shouting of the soldiers just arrived, made a powerful impression on me.
"Come, I see our fellow," cried Nicholas, seizing me suddenly by the arm and hurrying me away.
In a few minutes we had caught our man, mounted our horses, rejoined our cavalry escort, which awaited us in the marketplace, and galloped out of the town.
It is a fact worthy of record that of all the people killed and hurt during this bombardment of Giurgevo, not one was a Russian! This arose from the fact that the soldiers were under the safe cover of their batteries. The Turkish shells did not produce any real damage to works or men. In short, all that was accomplished in this noisy display of the "art of war" was the destruction of many private houses, the killing and maiming of several civilians, including women and children, and a shameful waste of very expensive ammunition, partly paid for by the sufferers. In contemplating these facts, the word "glory" assumed a very strange and quite a new meaning in my mind.
Soon we were beyond the reach of Turkish missiles, though still within sound of the guns. Our pace showed that we were making what I suppose my military friends would style a forced march. Nicholas was evidently unwilling to converse on the object of our march, but at length gave way a little.
"I see no harm," he said, "in telling you that we are about to cross the Danube not far from this, and that at least one of my objects is to secure a trustworthy intelligent spy. You know—perhaps you don't know—that such men are rare. Of course we can procure any number of men who have pluck enough to offer themselves as spies, for the sake of the high pay, just as we can get any number of men who are willing to jump down a cannon's throat for the honour and glory of the thing."
"Yes," said I, interrupting, "men like our friend Nicholas Naranovitsch!"
"Well, perhaps," he replied, with a light laugh, "but don't change the subject, Jeff, you've got a bad tendency to do so. I say there is no difficulty in getting spies; but it is not easy to find men well qualified for such work. Now one has been heard of at last, and, among other things, I am commissioned to secure him for the purpose of leading our troops across the Balkans."
"The Balkans!" said I, in surprise; "you are a long way from that range."
"The length of any way, Jeff, depends not so much upon the way as on the spirit of him who measures it. Ten miles to one man is a hundred miles to another, and vice versa."
I could make no objection to that, for it was true. "Nevertheless," said I, after a pause, "there may be spirits among the Turks who could render that, which is only a few days' journey in ordinary circumstances, a six months' business to the Russians."
"Admitted heartily," returned Nicholas, with animation; "if the Turk were not a brave foe, one could not take so much interest in the war."
This last remark silenced me for a time. The view-point of my future kinsman was so utterly different from mine that I knew not what to reply. He evidently thought that a plucky foe, worthy of his steel, was most desirable, while to my mind it appeared obvious that the pluckier the foe the longer and more resolute would be the resistance, and, as a consequence, the greater the amount of bloodshed and of suffering to the women, children, and aged, the heavier the drain on the resources of both empires, and of addition to the burdens of generations yet unborn.
When, after a considerable time, I put the subject in this light before Nicholas, he laughed heartily, and said—
"Why, Jeff, at that rate you would knock all the romance out of war."
"That were impossible, Nick," I rejoined quickly, "for there is no romance whatever in war."
"No romance?" he exclaimed, opening his eyes to their widest, and raising his black brows to their highest in astonishment.
"No," said I, firmly, "not a scrap. All the romance connected with war is in spite of it, and by no means the result of it. The heroism displayed in its wildest sallies is true heroism undoubtedly, but it would be none the less heroism if it were exercised in the rescue of men and women from shipwreck or from fire. The romance of the bivouac in the dark woods or on the moonlit plains of foreign lands, with the delights of fresh air and life-giving exercise and thrilling adventure, is not the perquisite of the warrior; it is the privilege, quite as much, if not more, of the pioneer in the American backwoods and prairies, and of the hunter in the wilds of Africa. The romance of unexpected meetings with foreign 'fair ones' in out-o''-the-way circumstances, with broken bones, perhaps, or gunshot wounds, to lend pathos to the affair, and necessitate nursing, which may lead to love-making,—all that is equally possible to the Alpine climber and the chamois-hunter, to the traveller almost anywhere, who chooses to indulge in reckless sport, regardless of his neck.—Of course," I added, with a smile, for I did not wish to appear too cynical in my friend's eyes, "the soldier has a few advantages in which the civilian does not quite come up to him, such as the glorious brass band, and the red coat, and the glittering lace."
"Jeff," said Nicholas, somewhat gravely, "would you then take all the glory out of war, and reduce soldiers to a set of mere professional and legalised cut-throats, whose duty it is callously to knock over so many thousand men at the command of governments?"
"Bear with me a little," said I, "and hear me out. You misunderstand me. I speak of war, not of warriors. As there is no 'romance,' so there is no 'glory' in war. Many a glorious deed may be, and often is, done in connection with war. Such a deed is done when a handful of brave men sacrifice their lives at the call of duty, and in defence of country, as at Thermopylae. Such a deed is done when a wounded Prussian soldier, dying of thirst on the battle-field, forgets the accursed custom—war—which has brought him to that pass, and shares the last drops of his water-flask with a so-called French enemy. And such a deed is done, still more gloriously, when a soldier, true to his Queen and country, is true also to his God, and preaches while he practises the principles and gospel of the Prince of Peace, in the presence of those with whom he acts his part in this world's drama. There is indeed much that is glorious in the conduct of many warriors, but there is no glory whatever in war itself. The best that can be said of it is, that sometimes it is a stern yet sad necessity."
We dropped the subject here, having reached the point of the river where our party was to cross to the Turkish shore.
The passage was soon accomplished by means of rafts, and many thousands of Russians having already preceded us we experienced no opposition. It was daylight when we rode into a village on the Bulgarian shore, and I looked up sleepily at the cottages as we passed.
"We halt here," said Nicholas, with a yawn as he drew rein.
The officer in command of our party had already halted his men, who, gladly quitting their saddles, streamed after us into the courtyard of the village.
SHEWS WHAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS IN THE TRACK OF TROOPS.
"Why, Nicholas," I exclaimed, looking round the inn, "I have been here before. It is—it must be—the very place where, on my way up, I saw a famous wrestling-match. Did I ever tell you about it?"
"Never; but come along, I must finish one part of my duty here without delay by paying a visit. You can tell me about the wrestling-match as we walk together."
I described the match with great interest, for my heart warmed towards the chief actor and his family, and as I proceeded with the narration I observed with some satisfaction that the road we were following led in the direction of the cottage of Dobri Petroff. As we drew near to the path that diverged to it I resolved, if possible, to give Nicholas, who was evidently interested in my narrative, a surprise by confronting him unexpectedly with the blacksmith and his family.
"Nicholas," I said, "you see that cottage on the hillside? I have a great desire to pay its inmates a visit. Have you any objection to turn aside just for a few minutes?"
Nicholas gave me a look of surprise and laughed.
"None in the world, Jeff, for it happens that I particularly wish to visit the cottage myself."
"You do? Why—what—"
"Well, finish your question, Jeff; why should it seem strange to you that I want to visit a Bulgarian family?"
"Why, because, Nick, this is the cottage of the very blacksmith about whom I have been speaking, and I wanted to give you a surprise by introducing him to you."
"His name?" asked Nicholas quickly.
"The very man. How strange! You have already given me a surprise, Jeff, and will now add a pleasure and a service by introducing me to him, and, perhaps, by using your powers of suasion. It is no breach of confidence to tell you that part of my business here is to secure the services of this man as a guide over the Balkans, with the passes of which we have been told he is intimately acquainted. But it is said that he is a bold independent fellow, who may dislike and refuse the duty."
"He won't dislike it at all events," said I. "He has no love for the Turks, who have treated him shamefully, just because of that same bold and independent spirit."
"Well, come, we shall see," rejoined my friend.
In a few minutes we had come to a turn in the path which brought the cottage full into view, and I experienced a sudden shock on observing that part of it—that part which had been the forge—was a blackened ruin. I was at the same moment relieved, however, by the sight of Ivanka and little Dobri, who were playing together in front of the uninjured part of the cottage.
Next moment the tall handsome form of the blacksmith appeared stooping under the doorway as he came out to receive us. I noticed that there was an expression of trouble on his countenance, mingled with a look of sternness which was not usual to him. He did not recognise me at first, and evidently eyed Nicholas—as a Russian officer—with no favour.
As we drew near, the stern look vanished, and he sprang forward with a glad smile to seize and shake my hand. At the same moment Ivanka's black eyes seemed to blaze with delight, as she ran towards me, and clasped one of my legs. Little Dobri, bereft of speech, stood with legs and arms apart, and mouth and eyes wide open, gazing at me.
"All well?" I asked anxiously.
"All well," said the blacksmith; then, with a glance at the forge—"except the—; but that's not much after all.—Come in, gentlemen, come in."
We entered, and found Marika as neat and thrifty as ever, though with a touch of care about her pretty face which had not been there when I first met her.
A few words explained the cause of their trouble.
"Sir," said Petroff, addressing me, but evidently speaking at Nicholas, "we unfortunate Bulgarians have hard times of it just now. The Turk has oppressed and robbed and tortured and murdered us in time past, and now the Russian who has come to deliver us is, it seems to me, completing our ruin. What between the two we poor wretches have come to a miserable pass indeed."
He turned full on Nicholas, unable to repress a fierce look.
"Friend," said Nicholas gently, but firmly, "the chances of war are often hard to bear, but you ought to recognise a great difference between the sufferings which are caused by wilful oppression, and those which are the unavoidable consequences of a state of warfare."
"Unavoidable!" retorted the blacksmith bitterly. "Is it not possible for the Russians to carry supplies for their armies, instead of demanding all our cattle for beef and all our harvests for fodder?"
"Do we not pay you for such things?" asked Nicholas, in the tone of a man who wishes to propitiate his questioner.
"Yes, truly, but nothing like the worth of what you take; besides, of what value are a few gold pieces to me? My wife and children cannot eat gold, and there is little or nothing left in the land to buy. But that is not the worst. Your Cossacks receive nothing from your Government for rations, and are allowed to forage as they will. Do you suppose that, when in want of anything, they will stop to inquire whether it belongs to a Bulgarian or not? When the war broke out, and your troops crossed the river, my cattle and grain were bought up, whether I would or no, by your soldiers. They were paid for—underpaid, I say—but that I cared not for, as they left me one milch-cow and fodder enough to keep her. Immediately after that a band of your lawless and unrationed Cossacks came, killed the cow, and took the forage, without paying for either. After that, the Moldavians, who drive your waggon-supplies for you—a lawless set of brigands when there are no troops near to watch them,—cleaned my house of every scrap that was worth carrying away. What could I do? To kill a dozen of them would have been easy, but that would not have been the way to protect my wife and children."
The man laid his great hand tenderly on Ivanka's head, while he was speaking in his deep earnest voice; and Nicholas, who was well aware of the truth of his remarks about the Cossacks and the waggon-drivers of the army, expressed such genuine feeling and regret for the sufferings with which the household had been visited, that Petroff was somewhat appeased.
"But how came your forge to be burned?" I asked, desiring to change the drift of the conversation.
The question called up a look of ferocity on the blacksmith's face, of which I had not believed it capable.
"The Turks did it," he hissed, rather than said, between his teeth. "The men of this village—men whom I have served for years—men by whom I have been robbed for years, and to whose insults I have quietly and tamely submitted until now, for the sake of these," (he pointed to his wife and children)—"became enraged at the outbreak of the war, and burned my workshop. They would have burned my cottage too, but luckily there is a good partition-wall between it and the shop, which stayed the flames. No doubt they would have despoiled my house, as they have done to others, but my door and windows were barricaded, and they knew who was inside. They left me; but that which the Turks spared the Russians have taken. Still, sir," (he turned again full on Nicholas), "I must say that if your Government is honest in its intentions, it is far from wise in its methods."
"You hate the Turks, however, and are willing to serve against them?" asked Nicholas.
The blacksmith shook his shaggy locks as he raised his head.
"Ay, I hate them, and as for—"
"Oh, husband!" pleaded Marika, for the first time breaking silence, "do not take vengeance into your own hands."
"Well, as to that," returned Dobri, with a careless smile, "I have no particular desire for vengeance; but the Turks have taken away my livelihood; I have nothing to do, and may as well fight as anything else. It will at all events enable me to support you and the children. We are starving just now."
Nicholas hastened to assure the unfortunate man that his family would be specially cared for if he would undertake to guide the Russian columns across the Balkan mountains. Taking him aside he then entered into earnest converse with him about the object of his mission.
Meanwhile I had a long chat with his wife and the little ones, from whom I learned the sad details of the sufferings they had undergone since we last met.
"But you won't leave us now, will you?" said little Ivanka pitifully, getting on my knee and nestling on my breast; "you will stay with father, won't you, and help to take care of us? I'm so frightened!"
"Which do you fear most, dear?" said I, smoothing her hair—"the Turks or the Cossacks?"
The child seemed puzzled. "I don't know" she said, after a thoughtful pause. "Father says the Turks are far, far worst; but mother and I fear them both; they are so fierce—so very fierce. I think they would have killed us if father had been away."
Nicholas did not find it hard to persuade the blacksmith. He promised him a tempting reward, but it was evident that his assurance that the wife and family would be placed under the special care of the authorities of the village, had much greater effect in causing the man to make up his mind than the prospect of reward.
It was further arranged that Petroff should accompany us at once.
"Ready," he said, when the proposal was made. "I've nothing left here to pack up," he added, looking sadly round the poor and empty room. In less than an hour arrangements had been made with the chief man of the village for the comfort and safeguard of the family during the blacksmith's absence.
It was bright noontide when we were again prepared to take the road.
"Oh, Dobri," said Marika, as in an angle of the inn-yard she bade her husband farewell, "don't forget the Saviour—Jesus—our one hope on earth."
"God bless you, Marika; I'll never forget you," returned Petroff, straining his young wife to his heart.
He had already parted from the children. Next moment he was in the saddle, and soon after was galloping with the troop to which we were attached towards the Balkan mountains.
TELLS MORE OF WHAT OCCASIONALLY HAPPENS IN THE TRACK OF TROOPS.
As we advanced towards the high lands the scenery became more beautiful and picturesque. Rich fields of grain waved on every side. Pretty towns, villages, and hamlets seemed to me to lie everywhere, smiling in the midst of plenty; in short, all that the heart of man could desire was there in superabundance, and as one looked on the evidences of plenty, one naturally associated it with the idea of peace.
But as that is not all gold which glitters, so the signs of plenty do not necessarily tell of peace. Here and there, as we passed over the land, we had evidences of this in burned homesteads and trampled fields, which had been hurriedly reaped of their golden store as if by the sword rather than the sickle. As we drew near to the front these signs of war became more numerous.
We had not much time, however, to take note of them; our special service required hard riding and little rest.
One night we encamped on the margin of a wood. It was very dark, for, although the moon was nearly full, thick clouds effectually concealed her, or permitted only a faint ray to escape now and then, like a gleam of hope from the battlements of heaven.
I wandered from one fire to another to observe the conduct of the men in bivouac. They were generally light-hearted, being very young and hopeful. Evidently their great desire was to meet with the enemy. Whatever thoughts they might have had of home, they did not at that time express them aloud. Some among them, however, were grave and sad; a few were stern—almost sulky.
Such was Dobri Petroff that night. Round his fire, among others, stood Sergeant Gotsuchakoff and Corporal Shoveloff.
"Come, scout," said the corporal, slapping Petroff heartily on the shoulder, "don't be down-hearted, man. That pretty little sweetheart you left behind you will never forsake such a strapping fellow as you; she will wait till you return crowned with laurels."
Petroff was well aware that Corporal Shoveloff, knowing nothing of his private history, had made a mere guess at the "little sweetheart," and having no desire to be communicative, met him in his own vein.
"It's not that, corporal," he said, with a serious yet anxious air, which attracted the attention of the surrounding soldiers, "it's not that which troubles me. I'm as sure of the pretty little sweetheart as I am that the sun will rise to-morrow; but there's my dear old mother that lost a leg last Christmas by the overturning of a sledge, an' my old father who's been bedridden for the last quarter of a century, and the brindled cow that's just recovering from the measles. How they are all to get on without me, and nobody left to look after them but an old sister as tall as myself, and in the last stages of a decline—"
At this point the scout, as Corporal Shoveloff had dubbed him, was interrupted by a roar of laughter from his comrades, in which the "corporal" joined heartily.
"Well, well," said the latter, who was not easily quelled either mentally or physically, "I admit that you have good cause for despondency; nevertheless a man like you ought to keep up his spirits— if it were only for the sake of example to young fellows, now, like Andre Yanovitch there, who seems to have buried all his relatives before starting for the wars."
The youth on whom Shoveloff tried to turn the laugh of his own discomfiture was a splendid fellow, tall and broad-shouldered enough for a man of twenty-five, though his smooth and youthful face suggested sixteen. He had been staring at the fire, regardless of what was going on around.
"What did you say?" he cried, starting up and reddening violently.
"Come, come, corporal," said Sergeant Gotsuchakoff, interposing, "no insinuations. Andre Yanovitch will be ten times the man you are when he attains to your advanced age.—Off with that kettle, lads; it must be more than cooked by this time, and there is nothing so bad for digestion as overdone meat."
It chanced that night, after the men were rolled in their cloaks, that Dobri Petroff found himself lying close to Andre under the same bush.
"You don't sleep," he said, observing that the young soldier moved frequently. "Thinking of home, like me, no doubt?"
"That was all nonsense," said the youth sharply, "about the cow, and your mother and sister, wasn't it?"
"Of course it was. Do you think I was going to give a straight answer to a fool like Shoveloff?"
"But you have left a mother behind you, I suppose?" said Andre, in a low voice.
"No, lad, no; my mother died when I was but a child, and has left naught but the memory of an angel on my mind."
The scout said no more for a time, but the tone of his voice had opened the heart of the young dragoon. After a short silence he ventured to ask a few more questions. The scout replied cheerfully, and, from one thing to another, they went on until, discovering that they were sympathetic spirits, they became confidante, and each told to the other his whole history.
That of the young dragoon was short and simple, but sad. He had been chosen, he said, for service from a rural district, and sent to the war without reference to the fact that he was the only support of an invalid mother, whose husband had died the previous year. He had an elder brother who ought to have filled his place, but who, being given to drink, did not in any way fulfil his duties as a son. There was also, it was true, a young girl, the daughter of a neighbour, who had done her best to help and comfort his mother at all times, but without the aid of his strong hand that girl's delicate fingers could not support his mother, despite the willingness of her brave heart, and thus he had left them hurriedly at the sudden and peremptory call of Government.
"That young girl," said Petroff, after listening to the lad's earnest account of the matter with sympathetic attention, "has no place there, has she?"—he touched the left breast of Andre's coat and nodded.
The blush of the young soldier was visible even in the dim light of the camp-fire as he started up on one elbow, and said—
"Well, yes; she has a place there!"
He drew out a small gilt locket as he spoke, and, opening it, displayed a lock of soft auburn hair.
"I never spoke to her about it," he continued, in a low tone, "till the night we parted. She is very modest, you must know, and I never dared to speak to her before, but I became desperate that night, and told her all, and she confessed her love for me. Oh, Petroff, if I could only have had one day more of—of—but the sergeant would not wait. I had to go to the wars. One evening in paradise is but a short time, yet I would not exchange it for all I ever—" He paused.
"Yes, yes, I know all about that," said the scout, with an encouraging nod; "I've had more than one evening in that region, and so will you, lad, after the war is over."
"I'm not so sure of that," returned the dragoon sadly; "however, she gave me this lock of her hair—she is called 'Maria with the auburn hair' at our place—and mother gave me the locket to put it in. I noticed that she took some grey hair out when she did so."
"Keep it, lad; keep it always near your heart," said the scout, with sudden enthusiasm, as the youth replaced and buttoned up his treasure; "it will save you, mayhap, like a charm, in the hour of temptation."
"I don't need that advice," returned the soldier, with a quiet smile, as he once more laid his head on his saddle.
Soon the noise in our little camp ceased, and, ere long, every man was asleep except the sentinels.
Towards morning one of these observed a man approaching at full speed. As he came near the sentinel threw forward his carbine and challenged. The man stopped and looked about him like a startled hare, then, without reply, turned sharply to the left and dashed off. The sentinel fired. Of course we all sprang up, and the fugitive, doubling again to avoid another sentinel, almost leaped into the arms of Andre Yanovitch, who held him as if in a vice, until he ceased his struggles, and sank exhausted with a deep groan.
On being led to one of the fires in a half-fainting condition, it was found that he was covered with blood and wounds. He looked round him at first with an expression of maniacal terror, but the moment he observed Petroff among his captors he uttered a loud cry, and, springing forward seized his hand.
"Why, Lewie," exclaimed the scout, with a gleam of recognition, "what has happened?"
"The Bashi-Bazouks have been at our village!" cried the man wildly, as he wiped the blood out of his eyes.
"Ha!" exclaimed Dobri, with a fierce look; "we can succour—"
"No, no, no," interrupted the man: with a strange mixture of horror and fury in his blood-streaked face; "too late! too late!"
He raised his head, stammered as if attempting to say more, then, lifting both arms aloft, while the outspread fingers clutched the air, uttered an appalling cry, and fell flat on the ground.
"Not too late for revenge," muttered the officer commanding the detachment. "Dress his wounds as quickly as may be, Mr Childers."
He gave the necessary orders to get ready. In a few minutes the horses were saddled, and I had done what I could for the wounded man.
"You know the village he came from, and the way to it?" asked the commanding officer of Petroff.
"Yes, sir, I know it well."
"Take the man up behind you, then, and lead the way."
The troop mounted, and a few minutes later we were galloping over a wide plain, on the eastern verge of which the light of the new day was slowly dawning.
An hour's ride brought us to the village. We could see the smoke of the still burning cottages as we advanced, and were prepared for a sad spectacle of one of the effects of war; but what we beheld on entering far surpassed our expectations. Harvests trampled down or burned were bad enough, so were burning cottages, battered-in doors, and smashed windows, but these things were nothing to the sight of dead men and women scattered about the streets. The men were not men of war; their peasant garbs bespoke them men of peace. Gallantly had they fought, however, in defence of hearth and home, but all in vain. The trained miscreants who had attacked them form a part of the Turkish army, which receives no pay, and is therefore virtually told that, after fighting, their recognised duty is to pillage. But the brutes had done more than this. As we trotted through the little hamlet, which was peopled only by the dead, we observed that most of the men had been more or less mutilated, some in a very horrible manner, and the poor fellow who had escaped said that this had been done while the men were alive.
Dismounting, we examined some of the cottages, and there beheld sights at the mere recollection of which I shudder. In one I saw women and children heaped together, with their limbs cut and garments torn off, while their long hair lay tossed about on the bloody floors. In another, which was on fire, I could see the limbs of corpses that were being roasted, or had already been burnt to cinders.
Not one soul in that village was left alive. How many had escaped we could not ascertain, for the wounded man had fallen into such a state of wild horror that he could not be got to understand or answer questions. At one cottage door which we came to he stood with clasped hands gazing at the dead inside, like one petrified. Some one touched him on the shoulder, when we were ready to leave the place, but he merely muttered, "My home!"
As we could do no good there, and were anxious to pursue the fiends who had left such desolation behind them, we again urged the man to come with us, but he refused. On our attempting to use gentle force, he started suddenly, drew a knife from his girdle, and plunging it into his heart, fell dead on his own threshold.
It was with a sense of relief, as if we had been delivered from a dark oppressive dungeon, that we galloped out of the village, and followed the tracks of the Bashi-Bazouks, which were luckily visible on the plain. Soon we traced them to a road that led towards the mountainous country. There was no other road there, and as this one had neither fork nor diverging path, we had no difficulty in following them up.
It was night, however, before we came upon further traces of them,— several fires where they had stopped to cook some food. As the sky was clear, we pushed on all that night.
Shortly after dawn we reached a sequestered dell. The road being curved at the place, we came on it suddenly, and here, under the bushes, we discovered the lair of the Bashi-Bazouks.
They kept no guard, apparently, but the sound of our approach had roused them, for, as we galloped into the dell, some were seen running to catch their horses, others, scarcely awake, were wildly buckling on their swords, while a few were creeping from under the low booths of brushwood they had set up to shelter them.
The scene that followed was brief but terrible. Our men, some of whom were lancers, some dragoons, charged them in all directions with yells of execration. Here I saw one wretch thrust through with a lance, doubling backward in his death-agony as he fell; there, another turned fiercely, and fired his pistol full at the dragoon who charged him, but missed, and was cleft next moment to the chin. In another place a wretched man had dropped on his knees, and, while in a supplicating attitude, was run through the neck by a lancer. But, to say truth, little quarter was asked by these Bashi-Bazouks, and none was granted. They fought on foot, fiercely, with spear and pistol and short sword. It seemed to me as if some of my conceptions of hell were being realised: rapid shots; fire and smoke; imprecations, shouts, and yells, with looks of fiercest passion and deadly hate; shrieks of mortal pain; blood spouting in thick fountains from sudden wounds; men lying in horrible, almost grotesque, contortions, or writhing on the ground in throes of agony.
"O God!" thought I, "and all this is done for the amelioration of the condition of the Christians in Turkey!"
"Ha! ha-a!" shouted a voice near me, as if in mockery of my thought. It was more like that of a fiend than a man. I turned quickly. It was Andre Yanovitch, his young and handsome face distorted with a look of furious triumph as he wiped his bloody sword after killing the last of the Bashi-Bazouks who had failed to escape into the neighbouring woods. "These brutes at least won't have another chance of drawing blood from women and children," he cried, sheathing his sword with a clang, and trotting towards his comrades, who were already mustering at the bottom of the dell, the skirmish being over.
The smooth-faced, tender-hearted youth, with the lock of auburn hair in his bosom, had fairly begun his education in the art of war. His young heart was bursting and his young blood boiling with the tumultuous emotions caused by a combination of pity and revenge.
The scout also galloped past to rejoin our party. I noticed in the melee that his sword-sweep had been even more terrible and deadly than that of Andre, but he had done his fearful work in comparative silence, with knitted brows, compressed lips, and clenched teeth. He was a full-grown man, the other a mere boy. Besides, Dobri Petroff had been born and bred in a land of rampant tyranny, and had learned, naturally bold and independent though he was, at all times to hold himself, and all his powers, well in hand.
Little did the scout imagine that, while he was thus inflicting well-deserved punishment on the Turkish Bashi-Bazouks, the Cossacks of Russia had, about the same time, made demands on the men of his own village, who, resisting, were put to the sword, and many of them massacred. Strong in the belief that the country which had taken up arms for the deliverance of Bulgaria would be able to fulfil its engagements, and afford secure protection to the inhabitants of Yenilik, and, among them, to his wife and little ones, Dobri Petroff went on his way with a comparatively easy mind.
It was evening when we reached another village, where the people had been visited by a body of Russian irregular horse, who had murdered some of them, and carried off whatever they required.
Putting up at the little hostelry of the place, I felt too much fatigued to talk over recent events with Nicholas, and was glad to retire to a small room, where, stretched on a wooden bench, with a greatcoat for a pillow, I soon forgot the sorrows and sufferings of Bulgaria in profound slumber.
SIMTOVA—NEW VIEWS OF WAR—LANCEY GOES TO THE FRONT, AND SEES SERVICE, AND GETS A SCARE.
Shortly afterwards our detachment reached the headquarters of General Gourko, who, with that celebrated Russian general, Skobeleff the younger, was pressing towards the Balkans.
Here changes took place which very materially altered my experiences.
Nicholas Naranovitsch was transferred to the staff of General Skobeleff. Petroff was sent to act the part of guide and scout to the division, and I, although anxious to obtain employment at the front, was obliged to content myself with an appointment to the army hospitals at Sistova.
As it turned out, this post enabled me to understand more of the true nature of war than if I had remained with the army, and, as I afterwards had considerable experience in the field, the appointment proved to be advantageous, though at the time I regarded it as a disappointment.
When I had been some weeks at Sistova I wrote a letter to my mother, which, as it gives a fair account of the impressions made at the time, I cannot do better than transcribe:—
"Dearest Mother,—I have been in the hospitals now for some weeks, and it is not possible for you to conceive, or me to convey, an adequate description of the horrible effects of this most hideous war. My opinions on war—always, as you know, strong—have been greatly strengthened; also modified. Your heart would bleed for the poor wounded men if you saw them. They are sent to us in crowds daily, direct from the battle-fields. An ordinary hospital, with its clean beds, and its sufferers warmly housed and well cared for, with which you are familiar enough, gives no idea of an army hospital in time of war.
"The men come in, or are carried in, begrimed with powder, smoke, and dust; with broken limbs and gaping wounds, mortifying and almost unfit for inspection or handling until cleansed by the application of Lister's carbolic acid spray. Some of these have dragged themselves hither on foot from that awful Shipka Pass—a seven days' journey,— and are in such an abject state of exhaustion that their recovery is usually impossible. Yet some do recover. Some men seem very hard to kill. On the other hand, I have seen some men whose hold on life was so feeble as to make it difficult to say which of their comparatively slight wounds had caused death.
"I am now, alas! familiar with death and wounds and human agony in every form. Day and night I am engaged in dressing, operating, and tending generally. The same may be said of all connected with the hospital. The doctors under Professor Wahl are untiring in their work. The Protestant sisters of mercy, chiefly Germans, and the 'Sanitaires,' who take the weary night-watches, are quite worn out, for the number of sick and wounded who pour in on us has far exceeded the computations formed. Everything in this war has been under-estimated. What do you think of this fact—within the last fifty days 15,000 men have been killed, and 40,000 sick and wounded sent to Russian hospitals? This speaks to 55,000 Russian homes plunged into mourning,—to say nothing of similar losses, if not greater, by the Turks,—a heavy price to pay for improving the condition of Bulgaria,—isn't it?
"There is a strong feeling in my mind that this is a war of extermination. 'No quarter' is too frequently the cry on either side. I do not say that the Russians mean it to be so, but when Bashi-Bazouks torture their prisoners in cold blood, and show fiendish delight in the most diabolical acts of cruelty, even going the length of roasting people alive, is it strange that a brutalising effect is produced on the Russians, and that they retaliate in a somewhat similar spirit at times? The truth is, mother, that one of the direct and most powerful effects of war is to dehumanise, and check the influence of, the good men engaged, while it affords a splendid opportunity to the vicious and brutal to give the rein to their passions, and work their will with impunity.
"But, while this is so with the combatants, many of those outside the ring are stirred to pity and to noble deeds. Witness the self-sacrificing labours of the volunteer heroes and heroines who do their work in an hospital such as this, and the generous deeds evoked from the peoples of other lands, such as the sending of two splendid and completely equipped ambulance trains of twenty-five carriages each, by the Berlin Central Committee of the International Association for the Relief of Sick and Wounded Soldiers in the field, the thousands of pounds that have been contributed by the Russians for the comfort of their sick and wounded, and the thousands contributed by England for that fund which embraces in its sympathies both Russian and Turk. It seems to me that a great moral war is going on just now—a war between philanthropy and selfishness; but I grieve to say that while the former saves its thousands, the latter slays its tens of thousands. Glorious though the result of our labours is, it is as nothing compared with the torrent of evil which has called us out, and the conclusion which has been forced upon me is, that we should—every one of us, man, woman, and child—hold and pertinaciously enforce the precept that war among civilised nations is outrageous and intolerable. Of course we cannot avoid it sometimes. If a man will insist on fighting me, I have no resource left but to fight him; but for two CIVILISED nations to go to war for the settlement of a dispute is an unreasonable and childish and silly as it would be for two gentlemen, who should differ in opinion, to step into the middle of a peaceful drawing-room, button up their coats, turn up their wristbands, and proceed to batter each other's eyes and noses, regardless of ladies, children, and valuables. War would be a contemptible farce if it were not a tremendous tragedy."
My mother's reply to this letter was characteristic and brief.
"My dear Jeff," she wrote, "in regard to your strictures on war I have only to say that I agree with you, as I have always done on all points, heart and soul. Don't forget to keep your feet dry when sleeping out at nights, and never omit to take the globules."
While I was busy at Sistova—too busy with the pressing duties of my post to think much of absent friends, my poor servant Lancey was going through a series of experiences still more strange and trying than my own.
As I have said, he had been appointed by Sanda Pasha to a post in connection with a Turkish ambulance corps. He was on his way to the front, when the detachment with which he travelled met with a reverse which materially affected his fortunes for some time after.
There were two Turkish soldiers with whom Lancey was thrown much in contact, and with whom he had become very intimate. There was nothing very particular in the appearance of the two men, except that they formed contrasts, one being tall and thin, the other short and thick. Both were comrades and bosom friends, and both took a strong fancy to their English comrade. Lancey had also taken a fancy to them. It was, in short, the old story of "kindred souls," and, despite the fact that these Turks were to Lancey "furriners" and "unbelievers," while he was to them a "giaour," they felt strong human sympathies which drew them powerfully together. The name of the thick little man was Ali Bobo, that of the tall comrade Eskiwin.
That these two loved each other intensely, although Turks, was the first thing that touched Lancey's feelings. On discovering that Ali Bobo happened to have dwelt for a long time with an English merchant in Constantinople, and could speak a little of something that was understood to be English, he became intimate and communicative.
Not more tender was the love of David and Jonathan than was that of Eskiwin and Ali Bobo. As the screw to the nut, so fitted the one to the other. Eskiwin was grave, his friend was funny. Ali Bobo was smart, his comrade was slow. They never clashed. Jacob Lancey, being quiet and sedate, observed the two, admired each, philosophised on both and gained their esteem. Their friendship, alas! was of short duration.
"You's goodish sorro man," said Ali Bobo to Lancey one evening, as they sat over the camp-fire smoking their pipes in concert.
Lancey made no reply, but nodded his head as if in approval of the sentiment.
"Heskiwin, 'e's a good un too, hain't 'e, Bobo?" asked Lancey, pointing with his thumb to the tall Turk, who sat cross-legged beside him smoking a chibouk.
Ali Bobo smiled in the way that a man does when he thinks a great deal more than he chooses to express.
At that moment the officer in command of the detachment galloped furiously into the camp with the information that the Russians were upon them!
Instantly all was uproar, and a scramble to get out of the way. Eskiwin, however, was an exception. He was a man of quiet promptitude. Deliberately dropping his pipe, he rose and saddled his horse, while his more excitable comrades were struggling hurriedly, and therefore slowly, with the buckles of their harness. Ali Bobo was not less cool, though more active. Lancey chanced to break his stirrup-leather in mounting.
"I say, Bobo," he called to his stout little friend, who was near, "lend a 'and, like a good fellow. This brute won't stand still. Give us a leg."
The little Turk put his hand on Lancey's instep and hoisted him into the saddle. Next moment the whole party was in full retreat. Not a moment too soon either. A scattering volley from the Russians, who were coming on in force, quickened their movements.
The faint moonlight enabled the Turks to distance their pursuers, and soon the chase appeared to be given up. Still, most of the detachment continued its headlong retreat for a considerable time.
Suddenly Eskiwin observed that Ali Bobo swayed from side to side as he rode, and then fell heavily to the ground. He pulled up at once and dismounted. Lancey, who saw what had happened, also dismounted. The rest of the detachment was out of sight in a moment. There was no sound of pursuers, and they found themselves left thus in a lonely spot among the hills.
On examining the fallen Turk it was found that he had been hit by two balls. One had apparently penetrated his shoulder, the other had grazed his temple. It was the latter which had brought him to the ground, but the shoulder-wound seemed to be the more dangerous.
"Dead!" said Lancey solemnly, as he kneeled beside the body.
Eskiwin made no answer, his grave countenance expressed nothing but stern decision. His friend's face was colourless, motionless, and growing cold. He raised Bobo's hand and let it drop as he gazed mournfully into his face.
Just then the sound of the pursuers was heard, as if searching the neighbouring thicket.
Eskiwin rose slowly, and, with his bayonet, began to dig a grave. The soil was soft. A hollow was soon scooped out, and the dead Turk was put therein. But while the two men were engaged in burying it, the Russians were heard still beating about in the thicket, and apparently drawing near. Lancey felt uneasy. Still Eskiwin moved with slow deliberation. When the grave was covered he kneeled and prayed.
"Come, come; you can do that on horseback" said Lancey, with impatience.
Eskiwin took no notice of the irreverent interruption, but calmly finished his prayer, cast one sorrowful glance on the grave, and remounted his charger.
Lancey was about to do the same, being retarded by the broken stirrup-leather, when a tremendous shout caused his horse to swerve, break its bridle, and dash away. At the same moment a band of Don Cossacks came swooping down the gorge. Lancey flung himself flat beneath a mass of underwood. The Cossacks saw only one horseman, and went past the place with a wild yell. Another moment and Lancey was left alone beside the grave.
To find his way out of the thicket was now the poor man's chief care, but this was difficult, for, besides being ignorant of the road, he had to contend with darkness, the moon having become obscured.
It is a well-known fact that when a lost man wanders he does so in a circle. Twice, during that night, did Lancey start with a view to get away from that spot, and twice did he find himself, after two hours' wandering, at the side of Ali Bobo's grave. A third time he set out, and at the end of that effort he not only came back to the same spot, but chanced, inadvertently, to plant his foot over the stomach of the luckless Turk.
This was too much, even for a dead man. Ali Bobo turned in his shallow grave, scattered the sod, and, sitting up, looked round him with an expression of surprise. At that moment the moon came out as if expressly for the purpose of throwing light on the dusty, blood-stained, and cadaverous visage of the Turk.
Jacob Lancey, although a brave man, was superstitious. On beholding the yellow countenance and glaring eyeballs turned full upon him, he uttered a yell of deadly terror, turned sharp round and fled, stumbling over stumps and stones in his blind career. The Don Cossacks heard the yell, and made for the spot. Lancey saw them coming, doubled, and eluded them. Perceiving only a wounded man sitting on the ground, the foremost Cossack levelled his lance and charged. Ali Bobo's stare of surprise developed into a glare of petrified consternation. When the Cossack drew near enough to perceive an apparently dead man sitting up in his grave, he gave vent to a hideous roar of horror, turned off at a tangent, and shot away into the bushes. Those in rear, supposing that he had come on an ambuscade, followed his example, and, in another moment, Ali Bobo was left alone to his moonlight reflections.