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Far Off eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 204 pages of information about Far Off.
but the bare earth.  Yet there is a wide chimney, where a blazing fire is kept up with a pile of logs.  And there is a sofa or divan, covered with striped silk, and many neat mats to serve as beds for as many travellers as may arrive.  The wind may whistle through the chinks, and the rain come through the roof, but the stranger is well warmed, and comfortably lodged; and above all, he has the host to wait upon him with more attention than a servant.  The supper is served as soon as the sun sets.

But where is the table?  There is none.  Is the supper placed on the floor?  Not so.  It is brought in on stools with three legs.  They answer the purpose of tables, trays, and dishes, all in one.  What is the fare served up?  This is the sort of dinner provided.  On the first table is placed a flat loaf; the gravy in the middle, and the meat all round.  When this is taken away, another table is brought in with cheese-cakes; a third with butter and honey; a fourth with a pie; a fifth with a cream; and last of all, a table, with a wooden bowl of curdled milk.  The company have no plates; but each Circassian carries a spoon and a knife in his girdle, and with these he helps himself.  The servants who stand by, are not forgotten:  a piece of meat or of pie-crust is often given to one of them; it is curious to see the men take it into a corner to eat it there.  There are many hungry poor waiting at the door of the guest-house, ready to help the servants to devour the remains of the feast; and there is often a great deal of food left; for there are generally ten tables, and sometimes there are forty tables.  The guests are expected to taste the food on each, however many there may be.

Instead of wine, there is a drink called shuat handed to the guests:  it is distilled from grain and honey.  Vegetables are not much eaten in Circassia:  for greens are considered fit only for beasts:  and there are no potatoes.  Pies, and tarts, and tartlets of various kinds are too well liked, and the finest ladies in the land are skilful in making them.

The family live in a thatched cottage, called “the family-house.”  It is not divided into rooms.  If a man wants several rooms, he builds several houses.

As you approach the dwelling of a Circassian, you hear the barking of dogs, and upon coming nearer, you see women milking cows, and feeding poultry, and boys tending goats, and leading horses.

If you go into the farm-yard, you will see among the animals, the buffalo—­but no pig.  There are, however, wild boars in the woods.

CIRCASSIAN WOMEN.—­They are not shut up as Hindoo, and Chinese, and Turkish ladies are.  They do not indeed go into the guest-house to see strangers; but strangers are sometimes invited into the family-house to see them.

An Englishman, who visited a family-house, was introduced to the wife and daughter.  They both rose up when he entered:  nor would they sit down, till he sat down; and this respect ladies show not only to gentlemen, but even to the poorest peasants.  The only furniture in the house was the divan, on which the ladies sat; a pile of boxes, containing the beds, which were to be spread on the floor at night; and a loom for weaving cloth, and spindles for spinning.

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