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Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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though it pains us. Seeing a crowd assembled on the banks,
he inquired the cause, and learnt that the body of the poor
girl had just floated to the top, and was brought to shore, and
now laid on the banks. Thousands ran to see it ; apparently
she had been for a long time covered with sand, by which
she was preserved. The flesh remained untouched and the
face preserved its fulness, but the contact of the atmosphere
very rapidly produced decomposition. Her riding-hat was tied
under her chin, and she still had on a little veil, and her rings
on her fingers. The Minister of Hanover and the Charge
d'AiFaires of France took charge of the precious remains during
the absence of her family."

Mrs. Bathurst erected a monument on the spot near where
her daughter was lost. Lady Blessington writes : —

" The monument erected to the memory of the fair and
youthful Miss Bathurst was glittering in the sun when I
passed before it."

This monument, so applicable to the youth and beauty of

her whose fate it commemorates, is the work of Mr. Richard

114



m




'jf '"""^S??'




'-^-'*^.




Aliss RosH Bathlkst,
(From a iMimatiire helonoina to Col. Josceliii Bagot)



The Strange Disappearance of a Diplomat

Westmacott, to whose taste and skill it is highly creditable.
It has on it the following inscription : —

Beneath this stone are interred the remains of Rosa Bathurst
who was accidentally drowned in the Tiber on the i6th March
1824, whilst on a riding-party, owing to the swollen state of
the river and her spirited horse taking fright. She was the
daughter of Benjamin Bathurst, whose disappearance when on
a special mission to Vienna some years since was as tragical
as it is unaccountable — no positive account of his death ever
having been received by his distracted wife. His daughter,
who inherited her father's perfections, both personal and mental,
had completed her sixteenth year when she perished by as
disastrous a fate.

Reader

" Whoever thou art, who may pause to peruse this tale of
sorrow, let this awful lesson of the instability of human
happiness sink deep in thy mind. If thou art young and
lovely, build not thereon, for she who sleeps in death under
thy feet was the loveliest flower ever cropped in its bloom.
She was everything that the fondest heart could desire or the
eye covet — the joy and hope of her widowed mother who erects
this poor memorial of her irreparable loss : —

"'Early, bright, transient, chaste as morning dew.
She sparkled, was exhaled, and went to Heaven.' "



115



THE CAPTIVE PRINCESSES

In July 1854 there was a painful excitement amongst the
aristocracy of Russia at hearing that two Princesses of the
royal Georgian family, both of whom were Ladies-in-waiting
to the Empress, had been carried off with their children and
attendants by a body of Lesghiens, followers of the redoubt-
able Schamyl, and that they were all prisoners in his seraglio
at Dargi-Vedenno, an almost inaccessible fortress in the moun-
tains of the Caucasus.

Princess Anna Tchavtchavadze and Princess Varvara Orbe-
liani, her sister, were daughters of the Tzarivitch Ellico, seventh
son of George XIII. ,^ the last King of Georgia, who abdicated
in 1 801. Both these Princesses were beautiful women, but
Princess Anna specially so ; she was now twenty-eight years of
age, and was said to have the finest eyes in Georgia, the land of
fine eyes. Alexandre Dumas, who knew her in 1858, writes
that what struck him even more than her eyes was her pure
Greek profile, or rather her Georgian profile, which is Greek
plus animation. " La Grece, c'est Galatee encore marbre ; la
Georgie, c'est Galatee animee et devenue femme."

* George XIII., the last of the Bagratides to occupy the throne of Georgia
which his ancestors had held for the space of 1029 years, seeing no hope for his
country from the attacks of the Persians and the Turks, sent an embassy to St.
Petersburg offering his throne to the Emperor Paul, who accepted it, but was
murdered before he had time to do so publicly. His successor Alexander I.
issued a proclamation in 1801 announcing the fact to the people of that country,
and Georgia, to which was soon added Mingrelia and Imeritia, have ever since
formed part of the Russian Empire.

116



The Captive Princesses

Princess Varvara, who was two years younger, was in the
deepest mourning for her husband, who had been killed a few
months before whilst fighting against the Turks.

At the time of this episode both sisters were staying at
Tsenondahl, the seat of Prince David Tchavtchavadze, Princess
Anna's husbandJ

Tsenondahl, or Tsinondale, as it is also written, is in the
province of Kahetia in Georgia, five miles from the town of
TelafF and about thirty from Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. It
is situated in the midst of lovely scenery, the view from the
house overlooking the valley of the river Alazan with the
snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus rising one above the other
being extremely grand. The country, too, is highly favoured
by nature ; owing to the extreme mildness of the climate and
the richness of the soil, the land is generally very fertile, and
the fruit-gardens and vineyards are celebrated. Tsenondahl
itself in the month of June was like a fairy scene : thickets of
pomegranate bushes with their brilliant scarlet waxen flowers,
oleanders and myrtle growing wild, and endless quantities of
roses (this being the native land of the queen of flowers), added
to the lavish profusion of orange-flower and citron-blossom,
jasmine and honeysuckle, spreading around the most delicious
perfume.

The house was famed for its hospitality, and a large party
were assembled there in July 1854. It consisted of Prince
David Tchavtchavadze, his wife. Princess Anna Elinichna,
Princess of Georgia in her own right, and five of their children,

^ The Tchavtchavadze Princes descended from Andronic, Emperor of Con-
stantinople. The OrbeHani Princes are said to have had their origin in China in
the fifth century, and they have a picture representing the Deluge in which one
of their ancestors is swimming to the Ark and holding up his fif/rs dc /lo/'/essc' so
as to be admitted ! " E ben trovato.''

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The Captive Princesses

Salome, Marie, Alexander, Tamara, and Lydia, whose ages
ranged from six years to three months. The relations staying
in the house were Princess Varvara Orbeliani (Princess Anna's
sister), with her baby boy of six months, and her niece, Princess
Nina BaratofF, a beautiful girl of eighteen. Also Princess Tinia
Orbeliani, an old lady of seventy-four. Besides these there
was Madame Dran9ay the French governess, and the Prince's
agent or steward, Ensign Gamgrelidzey (a man of high birth),
and his wife, Daredjana, and an old retired captain, Achverdoff.
The indoor servants included an old nurse of ninety-seven years,
who had lived in the family for three generations, thirteen or
fourteen maid-servants, and three men-servants.

As a rule. Princess Anna came to Tsenondahl in May and
stayed there till October, when the whole party moved to
the family residence in Tiflis for the winter ; but this spring
rumours having been afloat that some of the redoubtable
Schamyl's Lesghiens, the dreaded enemies of the Kahetians, were
approaching the cordon of forts which separated the two districts,
the departure from Tiflis was delayed until Prince David
had made inquiries. The reports he received were perfectly re-
assuring ; troops were being sent to Telaff, and nature assisted
to protect Tsenondahl, for the heavy rains had so swollen the
river that it would be impossible for the Lesghiens to cross
it. The family, therefore, and their numerous dependants
moved there in June. At the end of the month the Prince,
who was a Colonel in the Russian army and aide-de-camp to the
General commanding in the Caucasus, had to leave his family
to take command of a fortress situated about two days'
journey off, where he had some serious fighting ; but when
he managed to despatch to his beloved young wife a hasty

pencil note to assure her of his safety, he little thought that

ii8



The Captive Princesses

she and her belongings were going through worse dangers than
he was.

It was almost immediately after his departure that the
inhabitants of Tsenondahl were horrified to perceive a great glare
in the sky in the direction of Teiaff, for they guessed at once
that, notwithstanding what the Prince had been told, the
Lesghiens must have managed to cross the river Alazan, and that
the light was caused by the burning of the crops as they passed
through them, which was the universal custom of these bar-
barians. Still Princess Anna thought they were safe, and when,
late at night, the peasants came to the house to entreat the
family to take refuge with them in the woods, she refused, and
said she would not go until her husband sent to tell her to do
so ; and the old Princess Tinia laughed at their fears, and said
that during all her long life she had been threatened with a
descent of the Lesghiens, but that she had never even seen one
nor yet his horse ! The next day, however, the fires were much
nearer, and Princess Anna, acceding to the wishes of those around
her, began to pack up the silver, diamonds, and other precious
possessions and prepare for a move to Tiflis. She sent to TelafF
for post-horses, but the answer came that there were none avail-
able for the moment, and that they could not be sent till seven
on the next morning. That evening everything was ready for
the departure early the next day. As night approached the
ladies, beginning to be uneasy, felt that they would like to be
together, and consequently they all congregated in the room of
the Princess Varvara, put the children to sleep on the floor, and
extinguished the lights. Sleep they could not, and they went
out on to the balcony. From there they now saw with horror
that the glare in the sky was so great that all chance of flight

was useless. They still watched on in silence, and at four o'clock

119



The Captive Princesses

in the morning they heard a shot in their garden followed by
absolute silence. What did this mean ? — it was not an attack,
but was it not a signal ? At this agonising moment of suspense
the brave Madame Dran9ay, the French governess, insisted upon
going out to reconnoitre. She accordingly went down into the
garden and stealthily crept towards the private chapel hidden
amongst the vines. From there she saw a man with a gun in
his hand, who was no doubt the one whose shot they had heard,
which they rightly guessed was a signal that Tsenondahl was
unprotected. Madame Drangay saw also that the floods had
subsided, and that armed men were crossing the torrent. There
was now no doubt that an attack was imminent, and she quickly
returned to the house where she found that Princess Anna,
prostrated with fatigue, had dozed ofi^, and that Princess Orbeliani
was wrapt in prayer.

Before seven the family physician arrived on horseback from
Telaff and urged the Princess to fly at once. How could she do
so ; the horses had not arrived, and there were six young children
to move, three of them being infants in arms ! The servants
had packed the valuables in the Prince's travelling carriages, and
by eight o'clock the post-horses had arrived and were harnessed,
so that in a few moments the party would have started — when
suddenly old Captain Achverdoff exclaimed, " Modian ! (they
come !) les Lesghiens ! " This cry was succeeded by an indescrib-
able moment of terror ; every one seemed paralysed ; the men who
had brought the post-horses fled. The Doctor seized a gun and
met the horde of barbarians at the entrance, fired and killed the
leader, which caused such a confusion that he himself miraculously
managed to escape. The old Captain, though he was an invalid,
also saved his life ; he ran to the end of the garden and, climbing
up into a tree, remained there till all danger was past. Mean-

I20



The Captive Princesses

while the Princesses, with their children and the female servants,
took shelter in a belvedere at the extreme top of the house,
hoping that possibly the Lesghiens might be content with the
plunder they found in the lower rooms. The terrified women
crouched together in the darkest corner, the Princesses alone pre-
serving their presence of mind. " Pray," said Princess Anna, " for
death is near ; " then turning to the French governess, who had
only been eighteen days at Tsenondahl, she said, " Quelle fatale
destinee vous reunit a nous en ce moment. Pardonnez-m_oi
d'en avoir ete plus ou moins la cause." Princess Orbeliani said
she had no fear of death, which would unite her to her lost one,
but she dreaded seeing those dear to her killed ; so she placed
herself immediately in front of the door so as to die first, and
the beautiful Nina Baratoff insisted on remaining at her side.

Nearly an hour passed thus whilst the Lesghiens were busily
occupied plundering the twenty-two rooms below, and sounds
were heard of smashing of furniture and breaking of glass,
accompanied by demoniacal cries — a veritable Pandemonium.
Altogether there were inside and outside the house, according
to one account, about three thousand of these mountaineers.
Although we shall continue to call them Lesghiens, the general
term for all inhabitants of Daghestan, these men were really
Checknians — some of Schamyl's picked troops, only employed for
the most daring enterprises. At last, their work of pillage and
destruction being over, they began to look for the inhabitants of
the house, and finally they mounted the staircase leading to the
belvedere, forcing open the door which the unhappy fugitives
had fastened up, rushed in, seized the women and children, and
dragged them down the stairs, which being lightly built gave
way under the heavy rush, and all were precipitated to the floor
in a confused mass. Then a terrible contest ensued amongst the



121



The Captive Princesses

brutal Lesghiens as to who should be their prey, and each one
was specially anxious to secure the *' Khancha " (wife of the chief),
so that before long Princess Anna had nearly all her thin summer
clothes torn ofFher back, and she literally remained in her chemise
and stays, her magnificent hair mercifully forming a covering for
her otherwise bare neck and shoulders. Her rings were dragged
off her fingers, and her earrings would have been torn from her
ears had she not removed them and given them up. Even her
little baby Lydia had her only covering taken from off her, and
the poor mother tried to shelter her in her arms. After the
most important of the Lesghiens had each secured one of the
party, they prepared to start with their captives, whom they
placed behind them on their horses. The old Princess Tinia and
the nurse of ninety-seven they purposely left behind, concluding
that, as they were old, no one would care to ransom them; but
they set the house on fire before they left.

When the terrible march began, those that were not con-
sidered of sufficient importance to ride had to walk, and when
Madame Drangay, who was amongst this number, was dropping
from exhaustion, the Lesghien in charge of her beat her with
his whip every time she lagged behind. She, too, had had all
her clothes torn from her and remained with only her under
garments. Little Tamara, Princess Anna's child of four, cried
so much that one of the barbarians put her head-foremost into
a sack, which he then tied to his saddle. Princess Orbeliani and
her niece met with the best of treatment ; the latter had fallen to
the share of a young Checknian of good family, who seemed
struck with her beauty and awed by her gorgeous Georgian
dress, which she was wearing at the time of the raid, but even
she had her arms tied behind her back. Crossing the river
Alazan, the women were drenched to the skin, and many

122



The Captive Princesses

narrowly escaped drowning. After reaching the opposite bank,
a small band of Georgians came up and attacked the Lesghiens,
in hopes of delivering the Princess ; but their noble efforts only
added to the horrors, as the mountaineers, thinking this handful
of men was part of a large detachment, put spurs to their
horses and made them fly over ditches and rocks, nothing stop-
ping them, so that the unfortunate ladies that were mounted
behind were shaken to pieces, and had the greatest difficulty to
keep from falling. Princess Anna's strength was utterly ex-
hausted, and she felt that she could no longer support her
infant with her right arm whilst she held on to her captor
with the left. In this terrible dilemma she screamed to him
that she must drop the child, but he either did not hear her
voice above the din around or did not understand what she
said, and in a few moments, when the horse gave a plunge
over some obstacle, the poor little Lydia fell from her mother's
numbed arm. For a moment Princess Anna was still able to
hold it up by one foot, but only for a moment, and then the
child fell in the road. As the horse on which the Princess was
mounted never stopped for an instant she was spared the sight
of seeing her little darling trampled under the horses that were
following. One of the Lesghiens lifted the body up, and as it
was still breathing, plunged his dagger in her heart.

Little Lydia was not the only victim. When the Lesghiens
resolved to fly instead of fight, they wished to get rid of all
those prisoners who impeded their flight ; out of a hundred
that they had with them, sixty were now killed with the knife.
Two only of these were of the Princess's party — Daredjana, wife
of the Prince's agent, being one ; her body was afterwards found
pierced with wounds. As they got clear of the shots of their
assailants, the Lesghiens picked up fresh prisoners from the

123



The Captive Princesses

Georgian villages which they passed through, and then set fire
to their houses. Towards night the cavalcade came to one of
the forests common to that country, so dense that persons
wishing to pass through them have to cut their way in front of
them. The thick dress of the barbarians protected their limbs,
but the unfortunate women, forced on through briars and bushes,
were streaming with blood. Many of them sunk down saying
they preferred to die there, but the cruel whip forced them on.
At last there came a time when the prisoners fell and the whip
no longer was able to make them rise. Princess Anna's nurse
had three sabre cuts on her head, and one of her fingers cut off;
and Princess Nina saw a Lesghien, who was bothered by the
incessant cries of the child he was carrying off, take it by the
heels and dash its brains out against a rock as he passed.

The Lesghiens directed their course to the fortress of
Pokhalsky, situated at the top of a high rock. As the captives
reached the base of it, they found ten thousand men ranged in
two lines, through which they had to walk. These terrible-
looking barbarians, seeing women for the first time with their
faces uncovered, gave vent to horrible cries, and would have
seized them, had it not been for some of Schamyl's " na'ibs "
who kept them back. As it was one got hold of Madame
Dran9ay and tried to drag her towards him.

" Can she sew .? " he asked.

" Yes," said one of the Georgian prisoners, who wished to
do a bad turn to a Frenchwoman.

" Well, then, I will give three roubles for her," said the man.

Princess Orbeliani intervened, saying, " This is the wife of
a French General ; she will pay a ransom."

" Oh, then, leave her for the Imam," was the reply.

Schamyl's "Intendant" now joined them, and conducted

124



The Captive Princesses

them into the fortress where his master was then staying, their
means of access being a ladder. A gleam of happiness came to
them here at finding a relation, Prince Ivan Tchavtchavadze,
who was also one of Schamyl's prisoners. When Princess Anna
reached the top, she was so enfeebled that she could only totter
and had to be supported. Her appearance was pitiable indeed.
Her one remaining garment was much torn, her dishevelled
hair entangled with brambles, her shoulders covered with clotted
blood, and her inflamed and bleeding feet were almost without
skin. It was then for the first time that she heard that her
little Lydia was dead, and on hearing of her fate she completely
collapsed, and her sister feared for her reason. A fortunate
incident aroused her ; she heard an infant crying piteously, and
called out, " My child, my child ! "

" No, Princess, not your daughter," said a voice, " but my
little sister exactly the same age, who has taken nothing since
yesterday morning, when her mother was killed, and she will
die too."

" Give her to me," said the Princess, *' and I will feed her."

And this she continued to do, which probably saved her own
life as well as the child's. Some time after one of her women
arrived with Princess Anna's little boy, who was in a dreadful
condition ; his gums were clenched and he was quite insensible.
He had been separated from his nurse ever since they left
Tsenondahl and almost entirely without food. The girl who
carried him could only give him water to drink, and once she
picked up by the side of the road some nuts which she chewed
before giving them to the infant.

Princess Orbeliani, as we have said, was treated with more

consideration than any of the other captives, in consequence

of the great admiration the Lesghiens had for her late husband,

125



The Captive Princesses



which came about in this wise. Some years previously he had
been taken prisoner by some of them, and was conducted before
Schamyl, who saw in every prisoner of importance a chance of
exchange with his son,

"Your liberty depends upon yourself," said Schamyl.

" Tell me your price," replied the Prince, "and if it is not
above my fortune, I will pay it,"

" It is not a question of money."

" What is it, then ,? "

" Head for head."

" I do not understand,"

" Write to the Emperor Nicholas to give me back my son,
and in exchange I will give you your liberty,"

" You are mad," said the Prince, "as if one could ask such

a thing of the Emperor," and he turned away from the Imam,

who ordered him back to his prison, where he was kept six

months. At the end of that time Schamyl saw him again and

made the same proposition, receiving the same answer. "Very

well," said Schamyl, " put him in the Pit." The Pit at Veden

is something like the Mamertine Prison at Rome. Prisoners are

taken down into it by a ladder, and given a jug of water and

some black bread. It is certain death before long from the wet

alone. From time to time a message was given to Prince

Orbeliani asking him if he consented to write to the Emperor,

to which the same reply was given. At last he got too weak

to answer, and Schamyl was told that the Prince would be dead

in a week. He then had him taken out and placed in a

courtyard which was surrounded by cells, from one of which

the Im^m could see all that passed. A nafb then came forward

with nine men armed with guns.

"Ellico Orbeliani," said the naYb, "Schamyl, irritated at your

126



The Captive Princesses

refusal to comply with his wishes, has decided that you shall
die, but the choice of death is left to you."

"I choose that which will release me the quickest from the
pam of being his prisoner. You have armed men with you ;
let me be shot."

Accordingly the prisoner was placed with his back to the wall
opposite the cell from which Schamyl was looking on ; the men
loaded, put their guns in position, and were about to fire, when
Schamyl appeared, made a sign, and the guns were lowered.
"Ellico," said the Imam, "they told me you were brave,
now I have seen with my eyes that they told me the truth.
I exact nothing from you, you are free."

Prince EUico left Veden after a captivity of nine months,
leaving a lasting memory of his courage. It was thus that these
Lesghiens, hearing that one of their captives was the widow of
the man they admired so much, ferocious and brutal as they
were, showed Princess Orbeliani and her child a sort of rough
attention. The Princess profited by this state of things and
seized the occasion to ask what was likely to be demanded as
ransom, for their party. A naib went and questioned Schamyl,
who said that the conditions would be the release of his son
and a million roubles silver. The poor Princesses heard this in
despair, as they feared both would be impossible.

As Schamyl has now so much to do with our captive
Princesses we will here say a little about him. This celebrated


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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 10 of 22)