“Nor thou from me!” shouted the infuriated Khan, plunging his dagger into the body of the Captain, as he lifted his hand to seize him by the collar. Severely wounded, the officer fell groaning on the carpet.
“Thou hast undone me!” cried Ammalat, wringing his hands. “He is a Russian, and my guest!”
“There are insults which a roof cannot cover,” sullenly replied the Khan. “The die is cast: it is no time to hesitate. Shut your gate, call your people, and let us attack the enemy.”
“An hour ago I had no enemy ... there are no means now for repulsing them ... I have neither powder nor ball ... The people are dispersed.”
“They have fled!” cried Saphir-Ali in despair. “The Russians are advancing at full march over the hill. They are close at hand!”
“If so, go with me, Ammalat!” said the Khan. “I rode to Tchetchna yesterday, to raise the revolt along the line ... What will be the end, God knows; but there is bread in the mountains. Do you consent?”
“Let us go!” ... replied Ammalat, resolvedly.... “When our only safety is in flight, it is no time for disputes and reproaches.”
“Ho! horses, and six noukers with me!”
“And am I to go with you?” said Saphir-Ali, with tears in his eyes—“with you for weal or woe!”
“No, my good Saphir-Ali, no. Remain you here to govern the household, that our people and the strangers may not seize every thing. Give my greeting to my wife, and take her to my father-in-law, the Shamkhal. Forget me not, and farewell!”
They had barely time to escape at full gallop by one gate, when the Russians dashed in at the other.
The vernal noon was shining upon the peaks of Caucasus, and the loud voices of the moollahs had called the inhabitants of Tchetchna to prayer. By degrees they came forth from the mosques, and though invisible to each other from the towers on which they stood, their solitary voices, after awaking for a moment the echoes of the hills, sank to stillness in the silent air.
The moollah, Hadji Suleiman, a Turkish devotee, one of those missionaries annually sent into the mountains by the Divan of Stamboul, to spread and strengthen the faith, and to increase the detestation felt by the inhabitants for the Russians, was reposing on the roof of the mosque, having performed the usual call, ablution, and prayer. He had not been long installed as moollah of Igali, a village of Tchetchna; and plunged in a deep contemplation of his hoary beard, and the circling smoke-wreaths that rose from his pipe, he gazed from time to time with a curious interest on the mountains, and on the defiles which lay towards the north, right before his eyes. On the left arose the precipitous ridges dividing Tchetchna from Avar, and beyond them glittered the snows of Caucasus; saklas scattered disorderly along the ridges half-way