James Justinian Morier.

The adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 2) online

. (page 8 of 14)
Online LibraryJames Justinian MorierThe adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


' yes, it must be her! It is my Mariam !'
Upon which, without a moment's hesitation,



HAJJI BABA. 175

without thinking of the consequences, I
plunged into the river, and having waded
through it, stood at the foot of the precipice
immediately under my beloved wife. She
stretched her arms several times towards
me, as if she would have thrown herself out.
I almost screamed with apprehension ; and
yet the hope of pressing her to my heart
made me half regret that she had not done
so. We stood there looking wistfully at
each other, fearing to speak, yet longing to
do so. At length, she shut the lattice sud-
denly, and left me in an attitude and in all
the horrors of suspense. I kept my post for
some time without seeing any thing more of
her, when again suddenly the lattice opened,
and she appeared, but with looks that spoke
intense agitation. I scarcely could tell what
was about to happen, but waited in dread-
ful anxiety, until I saw her lean forward,
retreat, lean forward again then more and
more, until, by a sudden effort, I beheld her
fair form in the air, falling down the giddy
height. My legs refused to perform their



176 THE ADVENTURES OF

office, my eyes were obscured by a swimming,
and I should have probably sunk under the
intenseness of my feelings, when I saw her
half suspended, half falling, from a branch
of the willow tree. I bounded up, and in
an instant had mounted the tree, and had
clasped her senseless in my arms. I seemed
to be impelled by new vigour and strength ;
to reach the ground, to recross the river,
to fly with my precious burthen from the
inhabited outskirts into the open country,
appeared but the business of a second. I
was perfectly drunk with the thousand feel-
ings which agitated me; and although I
acted like one bereft of his senses, yet every
thing I did was precisely that which I ought
to have done, Nature guided me : the ani-
mal acting only from instinct would have-
done like me. I had saved that which was
most precious to me in this world.

' When I had worn out my first efforts
of strength, and had felt that my hitherto
senseless burthen showed some symptoms
of life, I stopped, and placed her quietly on



IIAJJI BABA. 177

the ground behind some broken walls. She
was terribly bruised, although no bone had
been broken. The branches of the tree,
upon which she had alighted, had wounded
her deeply in several places, and the blood
had flowed very copiously. But she was
alive ; she breathed ; she opened her eyes,
and at length pronounced my name. I was
almost crazy with joy, and embraced her
with a fervour that amounted to madness.
When she had reposed herself a little, I
snatched her up again, and proceeded 011-
wardswith all the haste imaginable, in the
determination to strike at once into the
mountains; but recollecting that I had the
river of Ashtarek to cross, and that with her
in my arms it would be impossible to do so
except by the bridge, I at once directed my
steps thither.

' We were reposing at the foot of the
bridge, when I heard the footsteps of your
horses. Although nearly exhausted with
my previous exertions, I still had strength
enough left to clamber up the bank, and

VOL. ir. N



178 THE ADVENTURES OF

take refuge in the ruined church, where you
first discovered us; and there I watched
your motions with the greatest anxiety, con-
cluding that you were a party sent in pur-
suit of us by the Serdar. Need I say after
this, that if you will protect us, and permit
us to seek our home, you will receive the
overflowing gratitude of two thankful hearts,
and the blessings of many now wretched
people, who by our return will be made su-
premely happy ? Whoever you are, upon
whatever errand you may be sent, you can-
not have lost the feelings of a man. God
will repay your kindness a thousand times ;
and although we are not of your faith and
nation, still we have prayers to put up at
the Throne of Grace, which must be re-
ceived when they are employed in so good
a cause.'



HAJJI BABA. 179



CHAPTER XII.

Sequel of the foregoing history, and of the resolution
which Hajji Baba takes in consequence.

THE Armenian youth here finished his
narrative, and left me in astonishment and
admiration at all he had related. With
my permission he then quitted me to visit
his wife, and promised to return immediately
with the report of her present state, and how
she felt after her repose.

' He surely cannot have been inventing
lies to my face all this time,' said I when
left to myself, * for a bleeding woman is
here in evidence to corroborate what he has
advanced ; but then should I permit him to
proceed, and the Serdar was to hear that I
had done so, what would become of me ? I
should certainly lose my place, and per-
haps my ears. No; compassion does not
suit me -, for if it did, I ought not to remain

K*



180 THE ADVENTURES OF

a Nasakchi. I will stick to what the sage
Locman, I believe, once said on this occa-
sion, which runs something to this purpose:
' If you are a tiger, be one altogether ;
for then the other beasts will know what
to trust to : but if you wear a tiger's skin,
and long ears are discovered to be con-
cealed therein, they will then treat you
even worse than if you walked about in
your own true character, an undisguised
ass.' '

I kept turning over in my mind whether
I should release him or not ; and was fluc-
tuating in great perplexity between the ass
and the tiger, when Yusuf returned. He
told me that his Mariam was considerably
refreshed by repose; but, weak from loss of
blood, and stiff by the violence of the con-
tusions which she had received (in parti-
cular, one upon her leg, which was of con-
sequence), it would be impossible for her to
move for several days; ' except indeed w?
were pursued by the Serdar/ added fee,
' when I believe nothing but force could



HAJJI BAB A. 181

hinder us from proceeding.' He said that
not until now hac! she found strength enough
to relate her own adventures from the time
she had left him at Gavmishlu.

It appears, that the instant she had
darted from the nuptial chamber, only co-
vered by her veil, she had been seized by
a Persian, who, discovering by the glare of
the lightning that she was young and hand-
some, ran off with her to some distance, and
there detained her, until, with the assistance
of another, she was mounted on a horse and
taken forcibly away; that these two men
carried her straight to the camp at Aberan,
and offered her for sale to the Serdar ; who
having agreed to take her, ordered her to
be conducted to his seraglio at Erivan, and
there put into service; that the horrid plight
in which she stood, when exhibited to the
Serdar, her disfigured looks, and her weak
and drooping state, made her hope that she
would remain unnoticed and neglected; par-
ticularly when she heard what was his cha-
racter, and to what extent he carried his



182 THE ADVENTURES OF

cruelties on the unfortunate victims of his
selfishness. Mariam alluding to herself,
then said, * Hoping, by always talking of
myself as a married woman, that I should
meet with more respect in the house of a
Mussulman, than if I were otherwise; I
never lost an opportunity of putting my
husband's name forward, and this succeeded
for little or no notice was taken of me,
and I was confounded with the other slaves,
and performed the different tasks of servi-
tude which were set me. But, unfortunately,
I did not long keep my own counsel ; I con-
fided my story to a Persian woman, who
pretended to be my friend ; hoping by that
means to soften her heart so much as to in-
duce her to help me in regaining my free-
dom; but she proved treacherous; she made
a merit of relating it to the Serdar, who im-
mediately forced me to confirm her words
with my own lips, and then the extent of
my imprudence became manifest. He an-
nounced his intention to avail himself of
my situation, and ordered me to prepare for



HAJJI BABA. 183

receiving him. Conceive then what were the
horrors of my position. I turned over in
my mind every means of escape, but all
avenues to it were shut. I had never before
thought of looking over the precipice upon
which the windows of our prison opened ;
but now I seriously thought of precipitating
myself, rather than submit to the tyrant.
But a few hours after I had had the blessing
to discover you on the bridge, I had been
ordered to hold myself in readiness to receive
him ; and it was then that I had positively
determined in my own mind to throw myself
headlong out, either once more to be joined
to you, or to die in the attempt. When I
shut the lattices in haste, several women had
just come into the room to conduct me to
the hot-bath previously to being dressed;
and when I had made some excuse for de-
laying it, and had sent them out of the room,
it was then that I opened the lattice a second
time, and put my resolution into practice.'
Yusuf having finished the recital of his
and his wife's adventures, was very anxious



184 THE ADVENTUBES OF

to know what part I would take, and ear-
nestly entreated me to befriend him by my
advice and assistance.

The morning was far spent. My men
were already mounted, and ready to pro-
ceed on our reconnoitring expedition, and
my horse was waiting for me, when a
thought struck me, which would settle
every difficulty with regard to the young
Armenian and his wife.

I called him to me, and said, * After
what you have related, it will be impossible
to leave you at liberty. You have, by your
own account, run off with a woman from the
Serdar's seraglio, a crime which you perhaps
do not know, in a Mussulman country, is
punished with death, so sacred is the harem
held in our estimation. If I were to act
right, I ought not to lose a moment in send-
ing you both back to Erivan; but that I
will not do, provided you agree to join us
in our present expedition, and to serve us
as guide in those parts of the country with
which you are best acquainted.' I then ex-



HAJJI BABA. 185

plained to him the nature of my office, and
what was the object of the expedition.

' If you are zealous in our cause,' said I,
' you will then have performed a service
which- will entitle you to reward, and thus
enable me to speak in your favour to the
Serdar and to my chief, and, Inshallalt !
please God, to procure your release. In the
meanwhile, your wife may remain here, in
all safety, in the hands of the good folks of
this village ; and by the time we return, she
will, I hope, have been restored to health.'

The youth, upon hearing this language,
took my hand and kissed it, agreed to every
thing I had said, and having girt on his
arms, he was ready to attend us. I per-
mitted him to go to his wife, to give her an
account of this arrangement, and to console
her, with proper assurances, that they would
soon be restored to each other. He again
thanked me; and, with the agility of an
antelope, had already gained the summit of
the first hill before we had even began to
ascend it,



18G THE ADVENTURES OF



CHAPTER XIII.

Tht Armenian Yusuf proves himself worthy ofHajj?
Baba's confidence.

WE proceeded towards the Georgian
frontier, shaping our track over unfre-
quented parts of the mountains, in which
we were very materially assisted by Yusiif,
who appeared to be acquainted with every
landmark, and who knew the directions of
places with a precision that quite surprised
us. He did not seem anxious to visit his
own village; and, in fact, he assured me,
that had he even permission so to do, he
could not, because he felt himself bound by
the oath which he had taken upon last quit-
ting it, not to return, except accompanied by
his wife.

The intelligence which had been brought
to the Serdar of the advance of the Mosco-
vites proved false, for we found them posted



IIAJJf BABA. 1ST

on the banks of the Pembaki river, occupy-
ing the village of Hamamlu, and fortifying
themselves in Karaklisseh. We were not
far from the former place ; and as we ap-
proached it, I became anxious to acquire
some precise intelligence concerning the
numbers and the dispositions of the enemy.
A thought struck me, as I pondered over
the fate of my Armenian protege * I will
either save this youth or lose him,' thought
I, ' and never was there a better opportunity
than the present. He shall go to Hamamlu :
if he brings me the intelligence we want, no-
thing can prevent me from procuring both
his pardon and his wife for him if he proves
a traitor, I get rid of him, and demand a re-
ward from the Serdar, for restoring his fu-
gitive slave.'

I called him to me, and proposed the un-
dertaking. Quicker than thought, he seized
all the different bearings of the question, and
without hesitation accepted of my proposal.
He girt himself afresh, he tucked the skirts
of his coats into his girdle, putting his cap



188 THE ADVENTURES OF

on one side, and slinging his long gun at
his back, he darted down the mountain's
side, and we very soon lost him amid the
sloping woods.

' Ruft ke ruft. He is gone and doubly
gone,' said the young delikhan ; * we shall
never see him again.'

( And why should he not return ?' said I.
.* Have we not got a hostage? Armenian
though he is, he will not leave his wife.'

* Yes,' said the youth, ' he is an Arme-
nian ; but he is also an Isauvi, (a Christian).
The Russians too are Isauvis; and we all
know, that when these infidels get together,
they will rather die than return to the sons
of Islam. No; were he the chaste Joseph
himself, and his wife Zuleikha in person, I
will bet this horse,' pointing to the beast
under him, ' that we see him no more.'

( Do not coin false words, my little gen-
tleman f said a sturdy old cavalier, whose
sun-burnt face was harrowed by a thousand
wrinkles, and shaded by a shaggy beard,
mustachioSj and eyebrows, * why, without



HAJJI BABA. 189

any use, do you eat djrt? The horse is the
Shah's, not yours: and do you pretend to
make the bahs (bets) upon it r '

' The Shah's property is mine, and mine
is my own,' retorted the youth.

I and my party kept up this sort of de-
sultory talk for a little while before we
thought of settling ourselves, when, seeing
a spot where there was much grass, we
made for it, and dismounted from our
horses. We dispersed ourselves here and
there, each making a temporary establish-
ment of horse-cloths and cloaks spread
upon the ground, whilst our steeds, pick-
eted among the grass, fed at pleasure. I
announced my intention of passing the
night here in case Yusuf did not appear
before its close; and preparatory to thi?,
two of our best marauders set off in quest
of a sheep, fowls, or any thing they could
get for our evening's meal. After an hour's
absence, they returned with a sheep which
they had seized from a flock grazing in the
neighbourhood of the river. It was soon



190 THE ADVENTURES OF

killed, and preparations were made for
roasting it. Two stakes with hooks at the
top were cut from the forest and stuck
into the ground ; then a long stick was
passed through the animal in lieu of a spit,
and placed on the hooks. A fire having
been lighted, one of our men was stationed
near it to turn the animal at intervals ; and
it was not long before it was ready for eat-
ing. By way of variety, some of the
prime bits, with the fat of the tail, were
cut off, spitted upon a ramrod, and thus
roasted. The sheep was served up on its
stake, and our party fell upon it with an
intense appetite, whilst, by way of distinc-
tion, the ramrod was handed over to me for
my share.

By this time the day had entirely closed
in, and Yusuf had not appeared. We then
composed ourselves to sleep, leaving one
or two to keep watch and to attend upon
the horses. About an hour after mid-
night, when the moon was about going
down, a distant shout was heard presently



HAJJI BABA. 191

a second, more distinctly and nearer to us.
We were immediately upon the alert, and
the shouts being repeated, we could no
longer doubt but that the Armenian was
at hand. We then shouted in return, and
not very long after we saw him appear.
He was almost exhausted with fatigue, but
still strong enough to be able to relate his
adventures since he had left us.

He informed me, that having reached
Hamamlu, he was recognized by some of
the Russian soldiers who had escaped the
attack of the Persians upon his village,
and who immediately introduced him into
the fort, and treated him very kindly. He
was taken before the commanding officer,
who questioned him narrowly upon the
object of his visit ; but the ready pretext
which he advanced, of seeking his wife, an-
swered every difficulty; besides which, the
ruin of his village, the destruction of his
family property, and the acquaintances
which he had on the spot, furnished him
with so much matter of conversation, that no



192 THE ADVENTURES OF

suspicion of his designs could be entertained.
He was then permitted to walk about the
fort, and by asking his questions with pru-
dence, and making his own observations,
was enabled to furnish me with the informa-
tion I required on the strength and position
of the enemy, with some very good conjec-
tures on the nature and probability of their
future operations. He then managed to
slip away unperceived before the gates of
the place were closed, and regained the
mountains without the smallest impedi-
ment.

Having permitted Yusuf to refresh him-
self with food and rest, and being now per-
fectly satisfied that his story was true, and
that all confidence might be placed in his
integrity, I ordered my party to hold them-
selves in readiness to return to Erivan. He
was permitted to ride behind either of the
horsemen when tired with walking, and in
this manner, taking the shortest cuts over
the mountains, we regained the village of
Ashtarek. Whilst we stopped here to re-



HAJJI BABA. 198

fresh ourselves and horses, and to gain in-
telligence of the movements of the Serdar
and the chief executioner, I permitted the
youth to visit his wife. He returned beam-
ing with joy, for he had found her almost
cured of her bruises, and full of thanks for
the kindness and hospitality with which she
had been treated.

The Serdar and the chief executioner had
moved from Erivan, and were now encamped
close to the residence of the Armenian pa-
triarch ; and thither we bent our steps, ac-
companied by Yusuf.



VOL. n.



194 THE ADVENTURES OF



CHAPTER XIV.

'Hqjji Baba gives an account of his proceedings to
his superiors, and shows himself a friend to the
distressed.

THE monastery of Etchmiazin, so called
in the Armenian tongue, or Utch Klisseh,
or the Three Churches, by the Turks and
Persians, is situated in a large and well
cultivated plain, watered by the Araxes,
and several smaller streams. It stands at
the foot of the high mountain of Agri
Dagh, which the Christians, and in parti-
cular the Armenians, hold in great vene-
ration, because (so Yusuf informed me)
upon its conspicuous snow-capt summit the
ark of Noah rested. The monastery and
church, celebrated throughout Asia for the
riches which they contain, are inclosed
within high walls, and secured by strong
and massive gates. It is here that the



HAJJI BABA. 195

head of the Armenian church constantly '
resides, together with a large retinue of
bishops, priests, and deacons, who form the
stock which provides clergy for most of the
Armenian churches in Asia. The title by
which he is known in Persia is khalifeh or

is

caliph, a designation which, comprising the
head of the civil as well as the religious go-
vernment, the Mussulmans used formerly
to bestow on the sovereigns who held their
sway at Bagdad and elsewhere. By the
Christians he is generally known by the
name of patriarch, and his church is an ob-
ject of pilgrimage for the Armenians, who
flock there at particular seasons in great
numbers from different parts of the world.
Hither we bent our steps. We discovered
the united camps of the Serdar and the
chief executioner, spreading their white
tents in an irregular figure all round the
monastery; and before we had reached its
walls, we heard that the two chiefs had
taken up their abode within it, and were
the guests of the caliph.



196

' We'll burn the fathers of these giaours J
(infidels) said the young delikhan, as he
rode up to me in great joy at this intelli-
gence ; f and will make up for the fatigues
we have undergone, by drinking abundantly
of their wine. 1

* Are you a Mussulman,' said I, ' and
talk of drinking wine ? You yourself will
become a giaour/

4 Oh, as for that,' answered he, * the
Serdar drinks wine like any Christian, and
I do not see why I should not.'

As we approached the monastery, I
called Yusuf to me, and told him to be in
readiness whenever he should be called for,
and be prepared to confirm any oath that
I might think it necessary to take for his
interests. He was particularly enjoined,
when he came to talk of the services he had
rendered, to deviate from the truth as much
as he chose, to set forth every sort of
danger he had or had not incurred, and in
particular to score up an account of sums
expended, all for the use and advantage of



HAJJI BABA. 197

the Serdar and of the Shah's government.
'1 hope at that rate, 'said I to him, c your
accounts may be balanced, by having your
wife restored to you ; for which, after con-
siderable difficulty, you may agree to give
a receipt in full of all demands. 1

Thus agreed, we passed through the
heavy archway which leads into the first
court of the monastery. This we found
encumbered by the equipages and servants
of the Serdar and the chief executioner.
Here and there were strings of horses
piqueted by ropes and pegs, with their
grooms established in different corners
among their saddles and horse furniture;
and a corner was taken up by a set of mules,
distinguished by the eternal jingle of their
bells, and the no less eternal wranglings of
their drivers.

In the second yard were the horses of
the chief servants, who themselves inhabited
small rooms that surrounded two sides of
the court.

We alighted at the first court, and I im-



198 THE ADVENTURES OF

mediately inquired for the quarters of my
master, the chief executioner. It was noon,
and I was informed he was then with the
Serdar, before whom, in all the boots, dust,
and dirt of my travelling dress, I was im-
mediately conducted.

They seemed to have entirely taken pos-
session of the Armenian sanctuary, and to
have dispossessed the Caliph of his place
and authority; for they had taken up their
abode in his very rooms, whilst the poor
priests were skulking about with humble and
downcast looks, as if fearful and ashamed
of being the lawful inhabitants of their own
possessions. The favourite horses of both
the Persian chiefs were piqueted close to
the very walls of the church, more care
being taken of their comforts than of the
convenience of the Armenians.

My reader is already acquainted with the
person and character of the chief execu-
tioner; and, before I proceed farther, I
must also make him acquainted with the
Serdar. A man of a more sinister aspect



HAJJI BABA.

was never seen. His eyes, which, in the
common expression of his countenance,
were like opaque bits of glass, glared ter-
ribly whenever he became animated, and
almost started out of their old shriveled
sockets; and when this happened, it was
always remarked that a corresponding smile
broke out upon his mouth, which made the
Shah's poet say, that Hassan Khan's face
was like Agri dagf^ the mountain near
which he lived. When clouded at the top,
and the sun shone in the plain, a storm was
sure to ensue. Time had worn two deep
wrinkles down his cheeks, which were not
hid by a scanty beard, notwithstanding all
the pains he took to make it thick ; and the
same enemy having despoiled him of all his
teeth save one, which projected from his
mouth, had produced deep cavities, that
made the shaggy hairs, thinly spread over
them, look like burnt stubble on the slopes,
of a valley. Altogether, it was difficult to
say whether the goat or the tiger was most
predominant ; but this is most certain, that



200 THE ADVENTURES OF

never was the human form so nearly allied
to that of the brute as in this instance. His
character corresponded to his looks ; for no
law, human or divine, ever stood in the way
of his sensuality; and when his passions
were roused, he put no bounds to his vio-
lence and cruelty. But with all this, he
had several qualities, which attached his


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryJames Justinian MorierThe adventures of Hajji Baba, of Ispahan (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 14)