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“Indeed! then my remark was illtimed," said Ipsilanti, gently, for he was especially anxious to become popular among the lower orders; "but at all events I must not linger hereVervenians! farewell! remember this night! and gather round me when I call."
He set spurs to his horse, and was about to gallop off, when Spiro impetuously rushing forward, almost threw himself beneath the horse's feet, and seizing the bridle, arrested his progress.
"Highness! in a fortnight, in a week, I will be with you-where shall I join you? My life is your's and my country's!"
"Noble Mainote!" said Ipsilanti, "I accept the gift in the name of Greece! come to me at Athens; there I shall remain till the war is organized, and whosoever will may join me there."
Spiro released his hold on the bridle, and the prince, waving his hand to the peasants, rode off at a quick pace, followed by his men; and, as the sound of their horses' feet died away in the olive grove, once more was the song of the nightingale heard therein, and the wonted stillness of the rural village settled down again amongst the quiet peasants, as though no warlike vision had passed before them, precursor to the terrible realities of strife and bloodshed that soon was to lay waste their happy grove.
Meanwhile Ipsilanti hurried on rapidly in the direction of Tripoliza. It was out of the course of his proper line of march, nor was it, perhaps, altogether prudent in him to approach so near the spot where the Moslem force was principally centered, as it was the residence of the Pasha of the Morea; but he could not resist the temptation of obtaining a passing view at least of the city he so coveted, though powerless as yet, and which he designed to attack as soon as he should have a sufficient force to render such an attempt practicable. It was not until evening, however, that they reached the height whence this view could be obtained; but then, separating from his companions, Demetrius Ipsilanti spurred his horse to the summit of a lofty rock, and looked down with a long, intense gaze, upon the plain of Tripoliza; there lay that great city, with its noble palaces and stately buildings, embowered in its
groves of pomegranate and of laurel. It was a fair sight to look on, for it united the magnificence of the Moslem city, to the unfailing beauty of the Greek scenery, and the last rays of the setting sun were now sweeping over its summer gardens, and its light kiosks. The Greek prince fancied he could hear even the echo of gay songs and dreamy music, swelling up with the evening breeze from the golden palaces, and he remained long, while horse and rider seemed motionless alike, tracing out the characteristic outline of the Mahomedan mosques, till suddenly he fixed his eyes, with an ominous frown, on the great banner that floated so ostentatiously from the walls of the citadel. A movement of impatience amongst his companions aroused him at last, and turning, without uttering a word, he caused his fiery horse to bound from the eminence on which he stood, and silently pursued his way to the spot chosen for their encampment till the following morning. That night within his tent, buried in profound slumber, upon his couch of wolf-skin, Demetrius Ipsilanti dreamt a dream.
He sat once more upon his horse, motionless as before, gazing down on the plain of Tripoliza, and he beheld again the goodly city, smiling in the beautiful sunlight, with its groves of waving pomegranate, its gardens of pleasure, and its golden palaces, and he heard again the voice of joy and mirth ascending on the soft winged "Imbat ;" but now he seemed to hear them more distinctly, and he could distinguish the songs of his own country, uttered by those who were too young to banish mirthful music from the lips that were condemned to call the vile oppressor master! or too happy in their love and youth to heed the degradation!
But again, the eye of the dreamer fixes itself on the flag that waves from these most stately walls-his lips part to utter the Greek war-cry, and he stretches out his hand towards the town; and as he did so, some invisible power seems to constrain him to hold that fatal hand extended thus, whilst with the strange rapidity of a slumberer's fancy, there passes before him the vision of all it had the power to conjure up. A change has come over the fair city that slept so peaceful in the twilight; for now it seems begirt,
as with a fiery ring, so brightly flash in the last sun rays the glittering arms of the fierce besiegers. Then suddenly does the soft winged Imbat bring up to the dreamer's ears no more the songs of gladness, but the wild war-cry, the clash of steel, the roar of cannon -the sun is darkened, for a veil of thick and lurid smoke spreads itself over the stately city, and for a time he can see nothing but its misty volumes rolling to and fro, through which at times a forked tongue of flame shoots forth, whilst, beneath its sombre folds, there rages the hoarse murmur of a wild and fearful din, the mingling of every sound of anguish and of wrath most dreadful to the human ear. But still the dreamer sits with his implacable hand outstretched, and the scene is changed again; the dark curtain of lurid smoke is lifted up; it rolls away in crimsoned clouds, and is dispersed, and the sight that lies beneath is all revealed before his eyes. Is this the gorgeous city that, a moment since, all bright and beautiful, lay sleeping in the sunshine, with the soft winds playing round it? This flaming, smoking, blood-drenched ruin, that swelters in an unbearable atmosphere, hot as a blast from the infernal depths, and seems all alive with wailing, tortured beings there has been a victory, for the banner of the cross streams on the wind where the Ottoman flag once floated. But are these the conquerors who, mad with a frenzy for destruction, rage through the streets that run rivers of blood, slaying, torturing, concentrating into one short hour the revengeful hate they fed in silence through long years, till, drunk with slaughter, the sword falls from their exhausted hand? Where are the golden palaces whence rose the songs of mirth? There! where from the blaz
ing walls the soldiers, wild with savage glee, drag forth those shrieking women by their long loose hair, and plunge the daggers into their defenceless bosoms, while on the fair face, upturned to heaven, death stamps for ever the last look of unavailing supplication! Where are the gorgeous mosques, ever musical at sunset with the call to prayers? There, where before each shattered door are piled the ghastly heaps of severed heads, that grin upon each other in horrid mockery! And where the gardens of pleasure and the light kiosks, the rippling fountains and the laurel grove? Where the tortured wail in rifled bowers, and playful children run beneath the knife, where men, grown to the likeness of demons in their satiated wrath, have caused the heavens, still so calm, to look upon a scene of horror such as rarely even this world of crime and misery has witnessed; and as the fascinated dreamer gazed, he saw, heaped up upon the plain, the treasure ravished from the vanquished city; gold and silken tents, and precious jewels, and costly arms, and he heard a voice-the voice, it may be, of his own conscience, thundering in his ear
"These are thy spoils, oh, conqueror; but justice and mercy, where are they?" And Demetrius Ipsilanti awoke with the cold drops of agony gathering on his brow; for he well knew that from the grave of every individual man, these two arise to seal his doom: justice, with the record of the dead man's crime-mercy, with the vial of his repentant tears; and by them is he judged in righteousness. But Ipsilanti shook off the remembrance of his prophetic dream when the morning sun arose, and none the less went forth on his ambitious path, led on by the hope of victory.
CHAPTER IV.-THE GREEK HUNT.
HAD I to minister to a mind diseased -to one that ever stoops so wearily to count the thorns that pierce his feet upon his earthly path, that he forgets to look upon the radiance shining over head-I would lead him forth on a still, calm summer's night in Greece, and bid him enter into the spirit of that unutterable rest which pervades its very atmosphere; not on a starry night, when the marvel of the illimi
table worlds might allure him to plunge lampless into the darkness of the mystery around us a mental torture to which there is no anguish comparable-but when only the moon, serene in lonely beauty, walks in her brightness over that vault of pure blue ether, without one passing cloud between the sunset and the dawning to molest her silvery path, or obstruct her steady gaze upon the beautiful world,
benign as that of a mother on her slumbering child. I am certain there is no pang, save that arising from remembered crimes, that would not vanish stingless beneath that wonderful repose. But who has not often wondered to see how those placid moonbeams fall, alike complacently, on all that nature can show forth most lovely, and all that man has made most foul, glancing from the fair face of the sleeping infant, to the guilty head of the murderer as he skulks out to his deeds of darkness from the lonely valley in its silent loveliness, to the crowded city where Mammon sits enthroned; and to-night, these beams are shed without reserve on the once fair and fallen Corinth, radiant alike upon the snow-white mournful ruins of her memory-haunted temples, and on the Moslem Bey's great palace of luxury, brilliant with the red glare of its many lamps-the splendid receptacle for authorized crimes.
Kyamil Bey lay at the foot of a tall palm tree within his vast and beautiful garden; his couch was a leopardskin, and his head was pillowed on the knees of a young negro, who sat upright, motionless as a statue of bronze; before him danced a group of female slaves, gliding with graceful, undulating movement amongst the trees, and singing softly as they flitted by. Others might be seen farther off, sporting with the tame gazelles that bounded from the bushes, or bending over the crystal fountains to look upon their own fair faces in the clear reflection; and it seemed as though that lovely garden, with its smiling inmates, were indeed such a spot as the fair moonbeams might love to linger near. But catch one evil glance from the fierce eyes of that tyrant master-meet but once the terrified gaze of his unhappy slaves-and you wonder that ever ray from heaven could look in all its purity upon a scene whose seeming fairness does but hide such hideous truths.
For some time Kyamil Bey watched the dancing girls, as they wearied themselves in efforts to please him, with more than his usual listlessness, and gradually an expression of profound lassitude and ennui clouded his fine features; he frowned repeatedly, and his frown had the singular effect of distorting his face in the most frightful manner. At last he started suddenly from his recumbent posture, and
flinging from his hand the costly narg hile which he held, the crystal bowl was broken into a thousand fragments. At this movement of impatience, the young negro slave fell down on his face, with his forehead in the dust, and the dancing girls, arrested suddenly in their graceful windings to and fro, remained, as though enchanted, in the attitudes they had involuntarily assumed, each face imprinted with the most humiliating terror. The Bey, sitting upright, now clapped his hands, and instantly gliding from amongst the trees, there appeared a gigantic negro, stealing along with a light noiseless tread, which constrasted strangely with his enormous size. As he approached, the Bey pointed to the ground, and the Nubian instantly crouched down at his feet ready to hear and to obey, whilst he lifted up to his master's face the small dark eyes, beneath whose heavy lids there lurked a a latent fire.
"Fehim," said the Bey, "I am sick of this insipid life!-are my soldiers asleep that they bring me no more prisoners, no plunder, no slaves!"
"Highness! only yesterday they were out scouring the country, and they brought in some fifty or sixty pairs of cars."
"Bah! what child's play is this? Were there no heads?"
"But few, great master! I could scarce string them into a necklace for your humble slave," said the negro, with a horrible grin.
"Mashallah! these idle slaves will do no good till I ride with them myself; and this is not a time to let our hand lie lightly on these Ghiaour dogs. They say the rebel Ipsilanti has dared to land not far from hence. Fehim, I must find means to show these wily infidels that they shall not draw their necks from beneath my feet so easily."
"What say you to a Greek hunt, noble master," said the Nubian, laughing low. "It is long since your High
ness has been at the chase."
"True! and by the beard of my father it is good sport; but I have hunted over these provinces so often, that now the lazy rebels will not run; they lie down beneath the horses' feet at once; it is wearisome to slaughter them without a chase."
"But if your Highness would condescend to ride towards the mountains, we might have noble sport. I know a
certain village, where they scarcely know the taste of Turkish steel."
"Good! good! we should find them fresh and full of fire then: I long for some such sport. Fehim, let all be ready for a distant hunt at break of day; you shall guide us to the spot, and I myself will start the game.'
The negro slaverose up, laid his hand on his head, and retired backwards from the presence of his master. At a sign from the Bey, the young slaves resumed their dance, and their songs re-echoed through the vast garden as before.
It was the feast of St. Nicholas, and the good people of Vervena were astir, before daybreak, to do him all due honour. These holidays, which are preposterously numerous, are one great drawback to the agricultural improve ment of Greece, as they accumulate just at the season when the land requires cultivation, and are most scrupulously observed. Nothing, however, can be more picturesque than the scene which a rural village presents on one of these fête days. Scattered all over the country are vast numbers of what are called "rock chapels;" that is, little lonely churches built in the rock, generally in the mouth of a cavern, in some wild inaccessible cavern, which are entirely deserted through out the whole year, except on the fête of the saint to whom it is dedicated, when the whole population of the neighbourhood makes a pilgrimage to the foot, in order to light the lamp, and hear the service for the day performed.
Most of these churches are extremely ancient, and it is no uncommon thing to be able to trace out on their venerable walls much of the eventful history of their country. There is one not far from Athens, which has for its altar-stone a block of marble that once had formed part of a heathen temple, and which retains a very legible description, dedicating the sacred building to Pluto, and the infernal gods. The antiquity of the church itself next testifies to the early introduction of Christianity into the country, whilst the usurpation of the unbelieving Moslem may equally be distinguished in the scrupulous care with which the picture of every saint has been blinded; and now again, the steady flame of the lamp that burns, duly tended, before the altar, proclaims the restoration of VOL. XXX. No. 175.
the country to her faith and liberty. The quaint little church of St. Nicholas, perched on a rocky cliff at no great distance from Vervena, is one of the most ancient, as well as picturesque, of these romantic chapels; and thither, with the first dawn of light, the pious villagers repaired, carrying with them their provisions for the day, and even their little infants, slung in baskets on the backs of their asses. They were as gay and gladsome a troop as ever made merry with a summer's morning, and singularly picturesque was the procession they formed, as, decked out in their gayest costumes, they moved along among the rocks and trees. The women rode on asses, headed by old Pepina, who was always sure to be foremost; and the men-hardy and light-footed-clambered gaily up the hill, leaping, wrestling with one another, and, above all, singing at the very top of their voices. One of the tallest and most active of the young men, however, remained pertinaciously by the side of a little mule, on whose back sat a dark-eyed Mainote, with a sunny smile and a gay young face, and very merrily they laughed and talked together; for Spiro and Xanthi had made the discovery, during their short acquaintanceship, that Maroula had displayed the most wonderful wisdom in marrying them to one another. The old priest had preceded his parishioners the evening before, and had passed the night in the church, that all might be ready when his flock should arrive. Nor had he been idle; the lamps were all lit, the incense smoking, and he himself sat-a singularly picturesque object-on a great marble stone at the door, encouraging the peasants with voice and gesture as they climbed the steep ascent. Had the dim eyes of the good old Papas been in a condition to decipher the writing traced by a hand that had lain in the dust for centuries unnumbered, he might have read the inscription carved on the block on which he sat, which would have told him that this was the grave of Regilla, the wife of Herodius Atticus, and menacing, with terrible threats, any who should dare to disturb her crumbling bones; but Papa Giorgy had enough to do to read his "Pater imon," and he gave no heed to the warning.
As soon as his children, as he called them (including Pepina), had gathered
round him, he proceeded with the service of the day, and the wild, peculiar music of the old Greek chants resounded once again among these desert rocks. As soon as the prayers were over, carpets were spread round the fountain of fresh pure water, which is invariably found near every church, and the merry groups sat down to their dinner of olives and coarse brown bread, reserving the shadiest seat and the ripest fruit for their good Papas. When their repast was over, they amused themselves for a time rambling over the rocks, gathering the berries of the wild arbutus and the mountain grape; till, at a signal from the priest, who saw that the day was waning, they prepared to redescend to their village before the night closed in. Hastily bundling up their goods, they started on their homeward path, with many a song, and shout of glee, when some wily donkey, with one scientific caper, tumbled its burthen into the dust, especially if the rider were old Pepina, which almost invariably happened; for, notwithstanding she set off bravely, holding on by her charger's ears, she somehow managed to perform most of the descent on her
hands and knees.
Thus singing and dancing, tossing their red caps in the air, and waking up the long-slumbering echoes with their joyous voices, the peasant troop had already descended from the cliff, and proceeded in all safety to traverse the flat table-land on which their vil lage stood. But it suffices of one single moment, when it springs from the infinite, freighted by destiny, to change the voice of gladness for the shriek of terror, the tranquil happiness for deepest misery, and the dream-haunted slumber for the cold lethargy of death! Suddenly, from that gay, peaceful band, there rises one spontaneous cry— The Turks! the Turks!-amaun! amaun !"
seem, that thus to describe a hunt," or even to give so horrible a title to the causeless and needless massacre it is intended to express, can only be an unwarrantable exaggeration, or a most unnecessary attempt to render still more striking the miseries endured by the Hellenic people under the Moslem rule. But such is by no means the case; the name is not an invention, but was currently in use among the Turks, as defining most clearly an amusement to which they were greatly addicted, whether from motives of revenge at any symptom of rebellion, as in the present case, or from the mere craving for excitement and unnatural thirst for blood. It consisted simply in going up with their dogs and their horses to some quiet village, and giving chase to the wretched inhabitants as they fled before them, till they had fairly run them down, and could massacre them at their leisure. But, at least, we may hurry over the recital, for it can profit little that we should dwell on the details of a scene so revolting as to seem indeed but the production of a diseased imagination, if ever one single imagination could have conceived that human beings could be systematically hunted down by their own fellow-creatures.
Shrieking and imploring mercy, over the rocks the victims fled, whilst Kyamil Bey, his eye glaring with excitement, led on the terrible band that followed them, shouting in their unhallowed mirth. The women were for the most part torn down by the dogs, and speedily dispatched; the men afforded a more exciting sport, as, striving with their peculiar swiftness of foot to outstrip the horses that were thundering after them, they strained every nerve in one wild effort to escape an effort perfectly unavailing, for, when they were not cut to pieces by the sword, the Moslems, all admirable marksmen, took aim at them with their long tupheks, and brought them down at once. None
escaped; for although some, favoured by the quickly deepening twilight, hid themselves amongst the rocks and bushes, their fate was perhaps still more terrible than that of the easier victims, who already lay stiff in their blood, beyond the power of man to make them suffer more-for, with the first dawn of light, they knew their enemies would be astir, to track out