« Prev Chapter XVII Next »


The aoul which had been destroyed was that in which Hadji Murad had spent the night before he went over to the Russians. Sado and his family had left the aoul on the approach of the Russian detachment, and when he returned he found his saklya in ruins — the roof fallen in, the door and the posts supporting the penthouse burned, and the interior filthy. His son, the handsome bright-eyed boy who had gazed with such ecstasy at Hadji Murad, was brought dead to the mosque on a horse covered with a barka; he had been stabbed in the back with a bayonet. the dignified woman who had served Hadji Murad when he was at the house now stood over her son's body, her smock torn in front, her withered old breasts exposed, her hair down, and she dug her hails into her face till it bled, and wailed incessantly. Sado, taking a pick-axe and spade, had gone with his relatives to dig a grave for his son. The old grandfather sat by the wall of the ruined saklya cutting a stick and gazing stolidly in front of him. He had only just returned from the apiary. The two stacks of hay there had been burnt, the apricot and cherry trees he had planted and reared were broken and scorched, and worse still all the beehives and bees had been burnt. The wailing of the women and the little children, who cried with their mothers, mingled with the lowing of the hungry cattle for whom there was no food. The bigger children, instead of playing, followed their elders with frightened eyes. The fountain was polluted, evidently on purpose, so that the water could not be used. The mosque was polluted in the same way, and the Mullah and his assistants were cleaning it out. No one spoke of hatred of the Russians. the feeling experienced by all the Chechens, from the youngest to the oldest, was stronger than hate. It was not hatred, for they did not regard those Russian dogs as human beings, but it was such repulsion, disgust, and perplexity at the senseless cruelty of these creatures, that the desire to exterminate them — like the desire to exterminate rats, poisonous spiders, or wolves — was as natural an instinct as that of self-preservation.

The inhabitants of the aoul were confronted by the choice of remaining there and restoring with frightful effort what had been produced with such labor and had been so lightly and senselessly destroyed, facing every moment the possibility of a repetition of what had happened; or to submit to the Russians — contrary to their religion and despite the repulsion and contempt they felt for them. The old men prayed, and unanimously decided to send envoys to Shamil asking him for help. Then they immediately set to work to restore what had been destroyed.

The second day after the raid, not too early, Butler went out into the street by way of the back door, intending to have a stroll and a breath of fresh air before his morning tea, which he normally took with Petrov. The sun was already clear of the mountains and it was painful to look at the white daub houses where it shone on the right-hand side of the street. It was, though, as cheering and soothing as ever to look left wards at the black tree-clad mountains rising higher and higher in the distance and, visible beyond the ravine, the lusterless chain of snow-capped mountains pretending as always to be clouds.

Butler looked at the mountains, filled his lungs, and felt happy to be alive and to be just who he was, living in this beautiful world. He was quite happy, too, about his conduct the previous day's action, both during the advance and in particular during the march back when things were quite hot; find he was happy to recall the way Masha, otherwise Marya Dmitrievna (the woman Petrov lived with) had entertained -hem after they had got back from the raid, and the especially unaffected, kindly way she had treated everyone, being particularly nice to him, it had seemed. With her thick plait of hair, her broad shoulders, full bosom, and kindly beaming rice covered with freckles, Marya Dmitrievna could not help attracting Butler who was a young, vigorous, unmarried man, and he even had an idea that she was keen on him. But he thought it would be a shabby way to treat his simple, good-natured comrade and always behaved towards Marya Dmitrievna with the utmost simplicity and respect and it gladdened him that he did so. He was thinking of this just now.

His thoughts were disturbed by the drumming of many horses' hoofs on the dusty road ahead of him. It sounded like several horsemen galloping. He raised his head and saw at the end of the street a party of riders approaching at a walk. There were a couple of dozen Cossacks with two men riding at their head: one wore a white cherkeska and a tall papakha wound with a turban, the other was a dark, hook-nosed officer in the Russian service, dressed in a blue cherkeska with a lavish amount of silver on his clothing and weapons. The horseman in the turban rode a handsome palomino with a small head and beautiful eyes; the officer was mounted on a tall, rather showy Karabakh. Butler, who was very keen on horses, appreciated at a glance the resilient power of the first rider's horse and stopped to find out who they were. The officer spoke to him.

‘That house of commandant?' he asked, pointing with his whip at Ivan Matveevich's (Petrov's) house, and betraying by his accent and defective grammar his non-Russian origin.

‘Yes, that's it,' said Butler. ‘And who might that be?' he asked, going closer to the officer and with a glance indicating the man in the turban.

‘That Hadji Murad. He come here and stay with commandant,' said the officer.

Butler knew about Hadji Murad and that he had surrendered to the Russians, but he had never expected to see him here, in this small fort.

Hadji Murad was looking at him in a friendly fashion.

‘How do you do. KosAkoldy,' said Butler, using the Tatar greeting he had learnt.

‘Saubul,' replied Hadji Murad, nodding. He rode across to Butler and offered his hand from which his whip hung on two fingers.

‘Commandant?' he asked.

‘No, the commandant is inside. I'll go and fetch him,' Butler said to the officer, going up the steps and pushing at the door.

But the ‘front door', as Marya Dmitrievna called it, was locked. Butler knocked, but getting no reply went round by the back way. He called for his batman, but got no answer, and being unable to find either of the two boatman went into the kitchen. Marya Dmitrievna was there, with face flushed, her hair pinned up in a kerchief and sleeves rolled up over her plump, white arms. she was cutting pie-cases from a rolled out layer of dough as white as her arms.

‘Where have the batmen got to?' asked Butler.

‘Gone off drinking,' said Marya Dmitrievna. ‘What is it you want?'

‘I want the door opened. You've got a whole horde of mountaineers outside. Hadji Murad has come.'

‘Go on, tell me another one,' said Marya Dmitrievna, smiling.

‘It's not a joke. It's true. They are just outside.'

‘What? Really?' said Marya Dmitricvna.

‘Why should I want to make it up? Go and look — they are just outside.

‘Well, there's a thing!' said Marya Dmitrievna, rolling down her sleeves and feeling for the pins in her thick plait of hair. ‘I'll go and wake up Ivan Matvcovich, then!'

‘No, I'll go. You, Bondarenko, go and open the door,' said Butler.

‘That's all right by me,' said Marya Dmitrievna and returned to her work.

When he learnt that Hadji Murad had arrived, Petrov, who had heard already that he was in Grozny, was not in the least surprised. He sat up in bed, rolled a cigarette, lit it, and began to get dressed, loudly coughing to clear his throat and grumbling at the higher-ups who had sent 'that devil' to him. When he was dressed, he ordered his batman to bring his ' medicine ‘, and the batman, knowing what he meant, brought him some vodka.

‘You should never mix your drinks,' he growled, drinking the vodka and eating a piece of black bread with it. ‘I was drinking chikhir last night and now I've got a thick head. All right, I'm ready,' he said finally and went into the parlor, where Butler had taken Hadji Murad and the escorting officer.

The officer handed Ivan Matveevich the orders from the commander of the Left Flank in which he was instructed to take charge of Hadji Murad and, while allowing him contact with the mountaineers through scouts, to ensure that he never left the fort except with an escort of Cossacks.

Ivan Matveevich read the paper, looked hard at Hadji Murad, and studied the paper again. After several times shifting his gaze from the paper to his visitor, he finally fixed his eyes on Hadji Murad and said:

‘Yakshi, bek-yaksh~. Very well. Let him stay then. But you tell him that my orders are not to let him loose. And orders are orders. As to quarters, what do you think, Butler? We could put him in the office.'.'

Before Butler could reply, Marya Dmitrievna, who had come from the kitchen and was standing in the doorway, said to Ivan Matveevich:

‘Why in the office? Let him stay here. We can give him the guest-room and the store-room. At least he'll be where you can keep an eye on him,' she said. she glanced at Hadji Murad, but meeting his eyes turned hurriedly away.

‘Yes, I think Marya Dmitrievna is right,' said Butler.

‘Go on, off with you!' said Ivan Matveevich, frowning ‘Womenfolk have no business here.'

Throughout this conversation Hadji Murad sat with his hand behind the handle of his dagger and a faintly disdainful smile on his lips. He said it mattered nothing where he lived. All he needed was what the sardar had granted — to have contact with the mountaineers, and he wished therefore that they be allowed access to him. Ivan Matveevich said that this would be done and asked Butler to look after their guests while something to eat was brought and the rooms made ready. He would go to the office to fill in the necessary papers and give the necessary instructions.

Hadji Murat's relations with these new acquaintances immediately became very clearly established. From their first meeting Hadji Murat felt nothing but repugnance and scorn for Ivan Matveevich and was always haughty in his treatment of him. He particularly liked Marya Dn1itrievna, who cooked and served his food. He liked her simple manner, her particular, for him foreign, type of beauty, and the unconsciously conveyed attraction which she felt for him. He tried not to look at her, or to speak to her, but his eyes turned automatically towards her and followed her movements.

With Butler he struck up an immediate friendship and took pleasure in the long talks he had with him, asking Butler about his life and telling him of his own, passing on the news brought by the scouts about the situation of his family and even asking his advice as to what he should do.

The news brought by the scouts was not good. In the four days he had been at the fort they had come twice and on both occasions the news was bad.

SHORTLY after Hadji Murad's surrender to the Russians his family was taken to the village of Vedeno and kept there under guard waiting for Shamil to decide their fate. The women — Hadji Murad's old mother Patimat and his two wives — together with their five small children lived under guard in the house of Ibrahim Rashid, one of Shamil's captains; Yusuf, his eighteen-year-old son, was kept in a dungeon, a deep pit dug eight or nine feet into the ground, with four criminals who, like him, were awaiting Shamil's decision on their fate.

But no decision came, because Shamil was away campaigning against the Russians.

On 6 January 1852, Shamil returned home to Vedeno after a battle with the Russians in which, according to the Russians, he had been beaten and fled to Vedeno, but in which, according to the view of Shamil and all his murids, he had been victorious and put the Russians to flight. In this engagement and it happened very rarely — he himself had fired his rifle and with drawn sword would have charged straight at the Russians if his escort of murids had not held him back. Two of them were killed at his side.

It was midday when Shamil arrived at his destination, surrounded by his party of murids showing of their horsemanship, firing rifles and pistols and chanting endlessly ‘La ilaha illa allah.'

All the people of Vedeno, which was a large village, were standing in the street and on the roofs of the houses to greet their master, and they too celebrated the event with musket and pistol fire. Shamil rode on a white Arab, which merrily sought to have its head as they neared home. The horse's harness was extremely plain with no gold or silver ornament a red leather bridle, finely made and grooved down the middle, metal bucket stirrups and a red shabrack showing from under the saddle. The Imam wore a fur coat overlaid with brown cloth, the black fur projecting at the collar and cuffs; it was drawn tight about his tall, slim frame by a black leather strap with a dagger attached to it. On his head he wore a tall, flattopped papakha with a black tassel and white turban round it, the end of which hung below his neck. On his feet were green soft leather boots and his legs were covered with tight black leggings edged with plain lace.

The Iman wore nothing at all that glittered, no gold or silver, and his tall, erect, powerful figure in its plain clothes in the midst of the murids with their gold- and silver-ornamented dress and weapons, created on the people exactly the impression of grandeur which he desired and knew how to create His pale face, framed by his trimmed red beard, with its small, constantly screwed up eyes, wore a fixed expression as if made of stone. Passing through the village he felt thousands of eyes turned on him, but his own eyes looked at no one. The wives and children of Hadji Murad went on to the verandah with the other occupants of the house to watch the Imam's entry. Only Patimat, Hadji Murad's old mother, did not go, but remained sitting as she was on the floor of the house with her grey hair disheveled and her long arms clasped round her thin knees, while she blinked her fiery black eyes and watched the logs burning down in the fire-place. She, like her son, had always hated Shamil, now more than ever, and had no wish to see him.

Hadji Murad's son also saw nothing of Shamil's triumphal entry. From his dark fetid pit he could only hear the shots and chanting and he experienced such anguish as is only felt by young men, full of life, when deprived of their freedom. Sitting in the stinking pit and seeing only the same wretched, filthy, emaciated creatures he was confined with, who mostly hated one another, he was overcome by a passionate envy for people who had air and light and freedom and were at this moment prancing round their leader on dashing horses and shooting and chanting in chorus ‘La ilaha illa allah.'

After processing through the village Shamil rode into a large courtyard next to an inner one where he had his harem. Two armed Lezghians met Shamil at the opened gates of the first courtyard. The yard was full of people. There were people from distant parts here on their own account, there were petitioners, and there were those whom Shamil himself had summoned for judgement. When Shamil rode in everyone in the courtyard rose and respectfully greeted the Imam with their hands placed to their chests. Some knelt and remained kneeling while Shamil crossed the courtyard from the outer to the inner gateway. Although Shamil recognized in the waiting crowd many disagreeable people and many tiresome petitioners who would be wanting his attention, he rode past them with the same stony expression on his face and went into the inner court where he dismounted alongside the veranda of his residence to the left of the gate.

The campaign had been a strain, mental rather than physical, for although he had proclaimed it a victory, Shamil knew that the campaign had been a failure, that many Chechen villages had been burnt and destroyed, and that the Chechens — a fickle and light-headed people — were wavering and some of them, nearest to the Russians, were already prepared to go over to them. It was all very difficult and measures would have to be taken, but for the moment Shamil did not want to do anything or think about anything. All he wanted was to relax and enjoy the soothing delights of family life provided by his favorite wife Aminet, a black-eyed, fleet-footed Kist girl of eighteen.

But not only was it out of the question to see Aminet at this moment — though she was only on the other side of the fence which separated the women's apartments from the men's quarters in the inner courtyard (and Shamil had no doubt that even as he dismounted Aminet and his other wives would be watching through the fence) — not only could he not go to her, he could not even lie down on a feather mattress and recover from his fatigue. Before anything else he had to perform his midday devotions. He felt not the least inclination to do so, but it was necessary that he should, not only in his capacity as religious leader of the people, but also because to him personally it was as essential as his daily food. So he carried out the ritual washing and praying. At the end of the prayers he summoned those who were waiting.

The first to come in to him was his father-in-law and teacher, Jemel-Edin, a tall fine-looking old man with grey hair, snowy white beard and a rubicund face. After a prayer to God, he began to question Shamil about the campaign and to recount what had happened in the mountains while he was away.

There were all manner of events to report — blood-feud killings, cattle-stealing, alleged breaches of the Tarikat — smoking tobacco, drinking wine, and Jemel-Edin also told Shamil that Hadji Murad had sent men to take his family over to the Russians, but that this was discovered and the family had been moved to Vedeno, where they were now under guard awaiting the Imam's decision. The old men were gathered in the adjoining guest-room for the purpose of considering all these matters, and Jemel-Edin advised Shamil to dismiss them today since they had already waited three days for him.

Shamil took dinner in his own room, where it was brought by Zaidet, the senior of his wives, a sharp-nosed, dark, ill-favored woman for whom he did not care. He then went into the guest-room.

There were six men in Shamil's council — old men with white, grey and ginger beards. They wore tall papakhas with or without turbans, new jackets and cherkeskass with leather belts and daggers. They rose to greet him. Shamil was a head taller than any of them. They all, including Shamil, lifted their upturned hands and with closed eyes recited a prayer, then wiped their hands across their faces, drew them down over their beards and joined them. This done, they sat down, with Shamil sitting on a higher cushion in the middle, and began their deliberations of the business in hand.

The cases of those accused of crimes were decided according to the Shariat: two thieves were condemned to have a hand cut off, another to have his head cut off for murder, and three were pardoned. They moved on then to the main business to consider what measures should be taken to prevent the Chechens going over to the Russians. In order to halt these defections Jemel-Edin had drawn up the following proclamation:

‘May you have peace everlasting with Almighty God. I hear that the Russians show favors to you and call for your submission. Believe them not, do not submit, but be patient. For this you will be rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Remember what happened before when your weapons were taken from you. If then, in 1840, God had not shown you the light, you would now be soldiers and carry bayonets instead of daggers, and your wives would not wear trousers and would be defiled. Judge the future by the past. It is better to die at war with the Russians than to live with the infidels. Be patient, and I shall come with the Koran and the sword to lead you against the Russians. For the present I strictly command you to have neither intention nor even any thought of submitting to the Russians.'

Shamil approved the proclamation, signed it and decreed that it should be dispatched to all parts.

When this business was finished the question of Hadji Murad was discussed. This was a very important matter for Shamil. Although he did not care to admit it, he knew that if Hadji Murad had been on his side, with his skill, daring, and courage what had now happened in Chechnia would never have occurred. It would be good to settle his quarrel with Hadji Murad and make use of him once again; but if that could not be done, he must still ensure that he did not aid the Russians. In either case, therefore, he must send for him and, when he came, kill him. This could be done either by sending a man to Tiflis to kill him there, or by summoning him and putting an end to him here. The only way to do that was to use Hadji Murad's family, above all his son, whom, as Shamil knew, he adored. It was therefore necessary to work through his son.

When the councilors had talked it over, Shamil closed his eyes and fell silent.

The councilors knew what this meant: Shamil was now listening to the voice of the Prophet telling him what should be done. After five minutes' solemn silence Shamil opened his eyes, screwing them more tightly than before and said:

‘Fetch me the son of Hadji Murad.'

‘He is here,' said Jemel-Edin.

Indeed, Yusuf, thin, pale, ragged, and stinking, still handsome though in face and figure, and with the same fiery black eyes as Patimat, his grandmother, was standing at the gate of the outer courtyard waiting to be summoned.

Yusuf did not feel about Shamil as his father did. He did not know all that had happened in the past, or if he knew, it was only at second-hand, and he could not understand why his father was so doggedly opposed to Shamil. Yusuf only wanted to go on living the easy, rakish life that he, as son of the naib, had led in Khunzakh, and he could see no point in being at odds with Shamil. In defiant opposition to his father he greatly admired Shamil and regarded him with the fervent veneration that was generally felt for him in the mountains. He experienced a particular feeling of awe and reverence for the Imam now as he entered the guest-room. He stopped at the door and was fixed by Shamil's screwed up eyes. He stood for a few moments, then went up to Shamil and kissed his large white hand with long fingers.

‘You are the son of Hadji Murad?'

‘Yes, Imam.'

‘You know what he has done?'

‘I know, Imam, and am sorry for it.'

‘Do you know how to write?'

‘I was studying to be a mullah.'

‘Then write to your father and say that if he returns to me now, before Bairam, I will pardon him and all will be as of old. But if he will not and remains with the Russians, then . . ,' — Shamil frowned menacingly — ‘I shall give your grandmother and mother to be used in the villages, and I shall cut off your head.'

Not a muscle twitched on Yusuf's face. He bowed his head to signify he had understood what Shamil said.

‘Write that and give it to my messenger.'

Shamil was then silent and took a long look at Yusuf

‘Write that I have decided to spare you. I will not kill you but will have your eyes put out, the same as I do to all traitors. Go.'

Yusuf appeared to be calm while in the presence of Shamil, but when he was led out of the guest-room he threw himself on his escort, snatched his dagger from its sheath and tried to kill himself But he was seized by the arms, bound and taken back to the pit.

That evening when the evening prayers were over and dusk fell, Shamil put on a white fur top-coat and passed through the fence into the part of the courtyard where his wives lived. He went straight to Aminet's room. But Aminet was not there; she was with the older wives. Trying to keep out of sight, Shamil stood behind the door of her room to wait for her. But Aminet was angry with Shamil because he had given some silk to Zaidet and not to her. she saw him come out and go to look for her in her room and she deliberately did not return to her room. she stood a long time in Zaidet's doorway, laughing quietly as she watched the white figure go in and out of her room. It was nearly time for the midnight prayers when Shamil, after waiting in vain, went back to his own quarters.

Hadji Murad had been a week at the fort living in the house of Ivan Matveevich. Although Marya Dmitrievna had quarreled with the shaggy-haired Khanefi (Hadji Murad had with him only two men: Khanefi and Eldar) and had several times ejected him from her kitchen — for which he nearly cut her throat — she evidently felt a particular respect and sympathetic concern for Hadji Murad. She no longer served him his dinner, a task she had passed on to Eldar, but she took every opportunity to see him and do anything she could to please him. she also took a very keen interest in the negotiations about his family; she knew how many wives he had, how many children and what ages they were, and each time a scout came she asked whom she could to discover how the negotiations were going.

In the course of this week Butler had become firm friends with Hadji Murad. Sometimes Hadji Murad would call on him in his room, at other times Butler would visit him. They sometimes conversed through an interpreter, otherwise they used their own resources — signs and, particularly, smiles. Hadji Murad had evidently taken a liking to Butler. This was clear from the way that Butler was treated by Eldar. Whenever Butler came into Hadji Murad's room Eldar greeted him, flashing his teeth in a cheerful grin, hastened to put cushions on his seat and helped him off with his sword if he was wearing

Butler also got on good terms with the shaggy-haired Khanefi, who was Hadji Murad's sworn brother. Khanefi knew many songs of the mountains and sang them well. To please Butler Hadji Murad would summon Khanefi and tell him to sing, mentioning the songs he thought good. Khanefi had a high tenor voice and sang with great clarity and expression. There was one song Hadji Murad was particularly fond of and Butler was much struck by its solemn, sad refrain. Butler asked the interpreter to tell him the words in Russian and wrote it down.

The song was about vengeance — the vengeance that Khanefi and Hadji Murad had pledged to each other.

It went as follows:

‘The earth will dry on my grave, and you, my own mother, will forget me. Grave grass will grow over the graveyard and will deaden your grief, my old father. The tears will dry in my sister's eyes and sorrow will fly from her heart.

‘But you, my elder brother, will not forget me till you have avenged my death. You, my second brother, will not forget me till you lie by my side.

‘Bullet, you are hot and the bearer of death, but were you not my faithful slave? Black earth, you will cover me, but did I not trample you beneath my horse's hoofs? Death, you are cold, but I was your master. The earth shall take my body, and heaven my soul.'

Hadji Murad always listened to this song with his eyes closed, and, as its last lingering note faded away, he would say in Russian:

‘Good song, wise song.'

With the arrival of Hadji Murad and his close acquaintance with him and his murids, Butler was even more captivated by the poetry of the peculiar, vigorous life led by the mountaineers. He got himself a jacket, cherkeska and leggings, and he felt he was a mountaineer too, living the same life as these people.

On the day Hadji Murad was to leave Ivan Matveevich gathered a few of the officers to see him off. The officers were sitting at two tables, one for tea, dispensed by Marya Dmitrievna, and the other laid with vodka, chikhir and hors d'oeuvre, when Hadji Murad, armed and dressed for the road, came limping with quick, soft steps into the room.

Everyone rose and one after the other shook hands with him. Ivan Matveevich invited hem to sit on the ottoman, but Hadji Murad thanked him and sat on a chair by the window He was clearly not in the least put out by the silence which fell when he came in. He closely studied the faces of those present then fixed his eyes indifferently on the table with the samovar and food on it. Petrokovsky, one of the officers more spirited than the rest, who had not seen Hadji Murad before, asked him through the interpreter if he had liked Tiflis.

Maya,' said Hadji Murad.

‘He says he does,' the interpreter answered.

‘What did he like in particular?'

Hadji Murad made some reply.

‘He liked the theater best.'

‘Did he enjoy the commander-in-chief's ball?'

Hadji Murad frowned.

‘Every people has its own customs. Our women do not wear such clothes,' he said, glancing at Marya Dmitrievna.

‘What didn't he like?'

‘We have a saying,' Hadji Murad said to the interpreter. ‘A dog asked a donkey to eat with him and gave him meat, the donkey asked the dog and gave him hay: they both went hungry.' He smiled. ' Every people finds its own ways good.'

The conversation stopped there. The officers began drinking tea or eating. Hadji Murad took the glass of tea he was offered and put it in front of him.

‘Now, would you like some cream? Perhaps a bun?' asked Marya Dmitrievna, serving him.

Hadji Murad inclined his head.

‘Well, good-bye then,' said Butler, touching him on the knee. ‘When shall we meet again?'

‘Good-bye, good-bye,' Hadji Murad said in Russian, smiling. ‘Kunak Bulur. I your good kunak. Now time — off we go,' he said, tossing his head as if to show the direction he had to go. Eldar appeared in the doorway with something large and white over his shoulder and a sword in his hand. Hadji Murad beckoned him and Eldar with his long strides came over and gave him the white cloak and the sword. Hadji Murad took the cloak and, dropping it over his arm, gave it to Marya Dmitrievnas saying something for the interpreter to translates

‘He says: you admired the cloak — take it,' said the interpreter.

‘But what for?' said Marya Dmitrievna, blushing.

‘Must do. Adat tad it is the custom', said Hadji Murad.

‘Well, thank you,' said Marya Dmitrievna, taking the cloak. ' God grant you may rescue your son. He is a fine boy ulan yakshi,' she added. ‘Tell him I hope he can rescue his family.'

Hadji Murad looked at Marya Dmitrievna and nodded in approval. Then he took the sword from Eldar and gave it to Ivan Matveevich. Ivan Matveevich took it and said to the interpreter:

‘Tell him he must take my brown gelding. That is all I can give in return.'

Hadji Murad waved his hand in front of his face to show that he did not want anything and would not accept it. Then he pointed first to the mountains, then to his heart, and went to the door. Everyone followed. Some of the officers, who remained inside, drew the sword and after inspecting the blade decided it was a genuine gourda.

Butler accompanied Hadji Murad on to the steps outside. But just then something totally unexpected happened which might have cost Hadji Murad his life but for his promptness, determination and skill.

The villagers of Tash-Kichu, a Kumyk village, held Hadji Murad in high esteem and on many occasions had come to the fort just to have a look at the celebrated naib. Three days before Hadji Murad's departure they sent messengers inviting him to attend their mosque on Friday. However, the Kumyk princes who resided at Tash-Kichu hated Hadji Murad and had a blood feud with him, and when they heard of the villagers' invitation they would not allow him into the mosque. The people were roused by this and there was a fight between the villagers and the princes' supporters. The Russian authorities restored peace among the mountaineers and sent a message to Hadji Murad instructing him not to attend the mosque. Hadji Murad did not go and everybody thought the matter was ended.

But at the very moment of Hadji Murad's departure, when he went out on to the steps and the horses stood waiting outside, one of the Kumyk princes, Arslan-Khan, who was known to Butler and Ivan Matveevich, rode up to the house.

Seeing Hadji Murad he drew his pistol from his belt and aimed it at him. But before Arslan-Khan could fire, Hadji Murad, despite his lameness, sprang like a cat from the steps towards him. Arslan-Khan fired and missed. Hadji Murad meanwhile had run up to him, and with one hand seized his horse's bridle and with the other pulled out his dagger, shouting something in Tatar.

Butler and Eldar rushed up to the enemies at the same time and seized them by the arms. Hearing the shot, Ivan Matveevich also appeared.

‘What do you mean by this, Arslan — creating mischief in my house!' he said, on discovering what had happened. ' It's no way to behave. Have it out with each other by all means, but keep it “out” and don't go slaughtering people in my house.'

Arslan-Khan, a tiny man with a black mustache, got down from his horse, pale and shaking, and with a vicious look at Hadji Murad went off with Ivan Matveevich into the parlor. Hadji Murad went back to the horses, breathing heavily and smiling.

‘Why did he want to kill you?' Butler asked him through the interpreter. The interpreter translated Hadji Murad's reply: ‘He says that it is our law. Arslan has blood to avenge on him, that is why he wanted to kill him.'

‘And what if he catches up with him on his journey?' asked Butler.

Hadji Murad smiled.

‘What of it? If he kills me, it will be the will of Allah. Well, good-bye,' he said once more in Russian, and grasping his horse by the withers, looked round at those seeing him off and affectionately encountered Marya Dnzitrievna's eye.

‘Good-bye, good lady,' he said to her. ' Thank you.'

‘May God only grant you can get your family free,' repeated Marya Dmitrievna.

Hadji Murad did not understand what she said, but he understood her concern for him and nodded to her.

‘Be sure you don't forget your ktlnak,' said Butler.

‘Tell him I am his true friend and will never forget him,' Hadji Murad replied through the interpreter. Then, despite his crooked leg, as soon as his foot touched the stirrup he swung his body quickly and effortlessly on to the high saddle and, straightening his sword and with a customary hand fingering his pistol, he rode off from Ivan Matveevich's house with that particular proud, warlike air the mountaineers have when on horseback. Khanefi and Eldar also mounted and, after bidding friendly farewells to their hosts and the officers, set off at a trot after their murshid.

As always happens, a discussion started about the person who had left.

‘He's a great fellow!'

‘It was just like a wolf the way he went for Arslan-Khan. There was a completely different look on his face.'

‘He will do us down,' said Petrokovsky. ' He must be a right rogue.'

‘Then I wish there were more Russian rogues like him,' interposed Marya Dmitrievna with sudden annoyance. ‘He was with us for a week and he couldn't have been nicer,' she said. ‘Polite and wise and fair-minded he was.'

‘How did you find all that out?'

‘I just did.'

‘Fallen for him, have you?' said Ivan Matveevich, coming in. ‘It's a fact.'

‘All right, so I've fallen for him. What's that to you? I just don't see why you speak ill of somebody when he is a good man. He may be a Tatar, but he is a good man.'

‘Quite right, Marya Dmitrievna,' said Butler. ‘Good for you to stand up for him.

The life of those living in the advanced fortresses on the Chechnia Line went on as before. In the interval there had been two alarms; foot-soldiers came running out, Cossacks and militia galloped in pursuit, but on neither occasion were they able to apprehend the mountaineers. They got away, and on one occasion at Vozdvizhenskoe drove off eight Cossack horses which were being watered and killed a Cossack. There had been no Russian raids since the one which had destroyed the village. But a major expedition into Greater Chechnia was expected following the appointment of Prince Baryatinsky as commander of the Left Flank.

On arriving in Grozny, being now in command of the whole Left Flank, Prince Baryatinsky (a friend of the Crown Prince and former commander of the Kabarda Regiment) at once assembled a force to continue the fulfillment of the Emperor's instructions which Chernyshev had communicated to Vorontsov. The column set out from Vozdvizhenskoe, where it had assembled, and took up position on the road to Kurinskoe. The troops camped there and engaged in forest clearing.

Young Vorontsov lived in a magnificent fabric tent; his wife, Marya Vasilevna, would drive out to the camp and often stayed overnight. Baryatinsky's relations with Marya Vasilevna were a matter of common knowledge, and she was coarsely abused by the officers unconnected with the court and by the ordinary soldiers, who because of her presence in the camp were sent out on night picket duty. It was usual for the mountaineers to bring up their cannon and fire into the camp. The shots they fired mostly missed their target so as a rule no action was taken against them. But to prevent the mountaineers bringing up their guns and frightening Marya Vasilevna pickets were sent out. To go on picket every night to save a lady from being frightened was an insult and an offense, and the soldiers and the officers not received in the best society had some choice names for Marya Vasilevna.

Butler took leave from the fort and paid a visit to the column in order to see old comrades from the Corps of Pages and his regiment, now serving in the Kura Regiment or as aides-de-camp or adjutants on the stay He found it all very enjoyable from the start. He stayed in Poltoratsky's tent and there found a number of people he knew who were delighted to see him. He also went to see Vorontsov, whom he knew slightly, having once served in the same regiment with him. Vorontsov made him very welcome. He introduced him to Prince Baryatinsky and invited him to the farewell dinner he was giving to General Kozlovsky, Baryatinsky's predecessor as commander of the Left Flank.

The dinner was splendid. Six tents had been brought up and pitched together in a row. Their whole length was taken up by a table laid with cutlery, glasses and bottles. It was all reminiscent of the guards officers' life in St Petersburg. They sat down to table at two o'clock. In the center of the table sat Kozlovsky on one side, and Baryatinsky on the other. Vorontsov sat on Kozlovsky's right, his wife on his left. The whole length of the table on either side was filled by officers of the Kabarda and Kura Regiments. Butler sat by Poltoratsky and they chatted gaily and drank with the officers sitting by them. When they got to the main course and the orderlies began filling the glasses with champagne, Poltoratsky — with genuine apprehension and regret — said to Butler.

‘Old “um-er” is going to make a fool of himself'

‘What do you mean?'

‘Why, he's got to make a speech. And how can he?'

‘Yes, old boy, it's a bit different from capturing barricades under fire. And on top of that he's got the lady next to him and all these court fellows. It really is pitiful to watch,' said the officers one to another.

But the solemn moment arrived. Baryatinsky rose and, lifting his glass, addressed a short speech to Kozlovsky. When he had finished, Kozlovsky got up and in a reasonably firm voice began to speak:

‘By his Imperial Majesty's command I am leaving you, gentlemen,' he said. ' we are parting, but always consider me um-er — present with you . . . You, gentlemen, know the truth of the — um-er — saying that you cannot soldier on your own. And so all the rewards that have come to me in my — um-er service, everything that has been — um-er — bestowed upon me, the generous tokens of his Majesty's favor, my — um-er position, and my — um-er — good name, all this, absolutely everything' — his voice quivered — ‘I — um-er — owe to you and to you alone, my dear friends.' And his wrinkled face wrinkled still more, he gave a sob, and tears came to his eyes. ‘I give you my — um-er — sincere and heartfelt thanks . . .'

Kozlovsky could not go on and stood to embrace the officers who came up to him. Everyone was very touched. The princess covered her face with her handkerchief Prince Vorontsov pulled a face and blinked hard. Many of the officers, too, were moved to tears. And Butler, who did not know Kozlovsky well, was also unable to restrain himself. He found it all exceptionally agreeable. After this there were toasts to Baryatinsky, to Vorontsov, to the officers, to the other ranks, and finally the guests left, intoxicated by wine and the rapturous martial sentiment to which they were anyway specially inclined.

The weather was superb — sunny and calm, and the air fresh and invigorating. On every side was the sound of campfires crackling and men singing. Everyone seemed to be celebrating. Butler went to call on Poltoratsky in the most happy and serene frame of mind. Some of the officers were gathered there, a card-table had been set up and an aide-decamp had gone banker with a hundred rubles. Twice Butler left the tent holding on to the purse in the pocket of his trousers, but in the end he succumbed and, despite the vow he had made to his brothers and to himself, began playing against the bank.

Before an hour was past Butler, flushed and sweating, covered with chalk, was sitting with his elbows on the table, writing down his bets beneath the crumpled cards. He had lost so much that he was now afraid of counting what was scored against him. He knew without reckoning that if he used all the pay he could get in advance and whatever his horse would fetch he could still not make up the whole of what he owed to this unknown aide-de-camp. He would have gone on playing, but the aide-de-camp put down the cards with his clean white hands and began totting up the column of chalk entries under Butler's name. Butler with embarrassment apologized that he was unable to pay all his losses immediately and said he would send the money on; as he said it he saw they were all sorry for him and everyone, even Poltoratsky, avoided his gaze. It was his last evening. All he had to do was to avoid gambling and go to Vorontsov's where he had been invited. Everything would have been fine, he thought. But far from being fine, everything now was disastrous.

After saying good-bye to his comrades and friends, he left for home and on arriving went straight to bed and slept for eighteen hours at a stretch, as people usually do after losing heavily. Marya Dmitrievna could tell he had lost everything by his request for fifty kopecks to tip his Cossack escort, by his melancholy look and terse replies, and she set on Ivan Matveevich for giving him leave.

It was after eleven when Butler woke on the following day and when he recalled the situation he was in he would have liked to sink back into the oblivion from which he had just emerged, but this could not be done. He had to take steps to repay the 470 rubles which he owed to this total stranger. One step was to write a letter to his brother, repenting for his misdeed and begging him to send for the last time 500 rubles on account of his share in the mill which they still owned jointly. Then he wrote to a skinflint relative begging her to let him have 500 rubles, too, at whatever interest she wanted. Then he went to see Ivan Matveevich and knowing that he, or rather Marya Dmitrievna, had money, asked for a loan of 500 rubles.

‘I'd be glad to: I'd let you have it like a shot, but Masha wouldn't part with it. These damned womenfolk are that tight-fisted. But you've got to get off the hook somehow. What about that sutler, hasn't he got any money?'

But there was no point even trying to borrow from the sutler, so Butler's only source of salvation was his brother or the skinflint relative. Having failed to achieve his purpose in Chechnia, Hadji Murad returned to Tiflis. He went daily to see Vorontsov, and when Vorontsov received him he begged him to collect the mountaineers held captive and exchange them for his family. He repeated again that unless this were done he was tied and could not, as he wished, serve the Russians and destroy Shamil. Vorontsov promised in general terms to do what he could, but deferred giving a decision until General Argutinsky arrived in Tiflis and he could discuss it with him. Hadji Murad then asked Vorontsov's permission to go for a time to Nukha, a small town in Transcaucasia where he thought it would be easier to conduct negotiations about his family with Shamil and his supporters. Besides that, Nukha was a Muslim town with a mosque and it would be easier for him there to perform the prayers required by Muslim law. Vorontsov wrote to St Petersburg about this, and meanwhile allowed Hadji Murad to go to Nukha.

The story of Hadji Murad was regarded by Vorontsov, by the authorities in St Petersburg and by the majority of Russians who knew of it either as a lucky turn in the course of the war in the Caucasus or simply as an interesting episode. But for Hadji Murad, especially more recently, it was a drastic turning-point in his life. He had fled from the mountains partly to save his life and partly because of his hatred for Shamil. Despite all difficulties, he had succeeded in escaping, and initially he had been delighted with his success and actually considered his plans for attacking Shamil. But getting his family out, which he had supposed would be easy, had proved harder than he thought. Shamil had seized his family and now held them captive, promising to dispatch the women into the villages and to kill or blind his son. Now Hadji Murad was going to Nukha to try with the help of his supporters in Daghestan by guile or force to rescue his family from Shamil. The last scout to call on him at Nukha told him that the Avars who were loyal to him were going to carry off his family and bring them over to the Russians, but as they were short of men ready to undertake this they were reluctant to attempt it in Vedeno where the family was held and would only do it if they were moved from Vedeno to some other place. They would then take action while they were being moved. Hadji Murad ordered him to tell his friends that he would give 3,000 rubles for the release of his family.

At Nukha Hadji Murad was allotted a small house with five rooms not far from the mosque and the khan's palace. Living in the same house were the officers and interpreter attached to him and his nukers. Hadji Murad spent his time waiting for and receiving the scouts who came in from the mountains and in going for the rides he was allowed to take in the neighbor hood of Nukha.

On 8 April when he returned from riding Hadji Murad learnt that in his absence an official had arrived from Tiflis. Despite his anxiety to find out what news the official brought him, Hadji Murad did not go at once to the room where the official and the local commissioner were waiting, but went first to his own room to say his midday prayers. After he had prayed, he went into the other room which served him as a sitting-room and reception room. The official from Tiflis, a chubby state councilor called Kirillov, conveyed to him that Vorontsov wished him to be in Tiflis by the twelfth for a meeting with Argutinsky.

‘Yakshi,' said Hadji Murad sharply.

He did not take to this official Kirillov.

‘Have you brought the money?'

‘Yes, I have it,' said Kirillov.

‘It is for two weeks now,' said Hadji Murad, holding up ten fingers then four more. ' Give it to me.'

‘You will have it directly,' said the official, getting a purse from his traveling bag. ‘What does he want money for?' he said to the commissioner in Russian, presuming that Hadji Murad would not understand. But Hadji Murad did understand and looked angrily at Kirillov. As he was taking out the money Kirillov, who wanted to strike up some conversation with Hadji Murad in order to have something to report to Vorontsov on his return, asked him through the interpreter if he found life tedious in Nukha. Hadji Murad gave a scornful sideways glance at this fat little man in civilian clothes who carried no weapons, and made no answer. The interpreter repeated the question.

‘Tell him I have nothing to say to him. Let him just give me the money.'

With this, Hadji Murad again sat down at the table and prepared to count the money.

When Kirillov had produced the gold ten-ruble pieces and laid out seven piles each of ten coins (Hadji Murad received 50 rubles in gold per day), he pushed them across to Hadji Murad. Hadji Murad dropped the coins into the sleeve of his eherkeska, rose and, as he left the room, quite unexpectedly rapped the state councilor on the top of his bald head. The state councilor leapt to his feet and commanded the interpreter to say that he had better not treat him like that because he was equivalent in rank to a colonel. The commissioner agreed. Hadji Murad merely nodded to indicate that he knew that and left the room.

‘What can you do with him?' said the commissioner. ‘He will stick his dagger in you, and that's that. There's no coming to terms with these devils. And he's getting his blood up, I can see.'

As soon as dusk fell two scouts, hooded to the eyes, came in from the mountains. The commissioner took them into Hadji Murad's quarters. One of the scouts was a dark, portly Tavlistani, the other a skinny old man. For Hadji Murad the news they brought was cheerless. Those of his friends who had undertaken to rescue his family were now backing out completely for fear of Shamil, who threatened the most horrifying deaths to any who helped Hadji Murad. Having heard their account, Hadji Murad put his elbows on his crossed legs, bowed his head (he was wearing his papakha) and for a long time was silent. He was thinking, thinking positively. He knew that he was thinking now for the last time, that he must reach a decision. Hadji Murad raised his head and, taking two gold pieces, gave one to each of the scouts.

‘Go now.'

‘What will be the answer?'

‘The answer will be as God wills. Go.'

The scouts got up and left. Hadji Murad remained sitting on the rug, his elbows on his knees. He sat there for a long time.

‘What should I do? Trust Shamil and go back to him? He is a fox and would play me false. And even if he did not, I could still not submit to this ginger-haired double-dealer. I could not because, now that I have been with the Russians, he will never trust me again,' thought Hadji Murad.

And he recalled the Tavlistan folk-tale about the falcon which was caught, lived among people and then returned to his home in the mountains. The falcon returned wearing jesses on his legs and there were bells still on them. And the falcons spurned him. ‘Fly back to the place where they put silver bells on you,' they said. ' we have no bells, nor do we have jesses.' The falcon did not want to leave his homeland and stayed. But the other falcons would not have him and tore him to death.

Just as they will tear me to death, thought Hadji Murad.

‘Should I stay here? Win the Caucasus for the Russian tsar, gain fame and wealth and titles?'

‘Yes, I could do that,' he thought, recalling his meetings with Vorontsov and the old prince's flattering words.

‘But I have to decide now, or he will destroy my family.'

All night Hadji Murad was awake, thinking.

Half-way through the night he had made up his mind. He decided that he must flee to the mountains and with the Avars who were loyal to him force his way into Vedeno and either free his family or die in the attempt. Whether or not to bring his family back to the Russians or flee to Khunzakh with them and fight Shamil he did not decide. He knew only that he must now get away from the Russians and into the mountains. And he began at once to put this decision into effect. He took his black quilted jacket from beneath the cushion and went to his nukers' quarters. They lived across the hall. As soon as he stepped out into the hall, the door of which was open, he was enveloped by the dewy freshness of the moonlit night and his ears were filled by the whistling and warbling of nightingales in the garden by the house.

Hadji Murad crossed the hall and opened the door of his nukers' room. There was no light in the room, only the new moon in its first quarter shining through the windows. A table and two chairs stood to the side and all four nukers lay on rugs and cloaks spread on the floor. Khanefi was sleeping outside with the horses. Gamzalo, hearing the door creak, raised himself, looked around and, seeing it was Hadji Murad, lay down again. Eldar, however, who lay next to him sprang up and began to put on his jacket, expecting some command. Kurban and Khan-Mahoma slept on. Hadji Murad put hisj jacket on the table and there was the knock of something hard as he did so: the gold pieces sewn in the lining.

‘Sew these in as well,' said Hadji Murad, handing Eldar the gold pieces he had received that day.

Eldar took the money and, going into the light, at once got a knife from beneath his dagger and began cutting open the lining of the jacket. Gamzalo half rose and sat with crossed legs.

‘Gamzalo, tell the men to check their guns and pistols and prepare some cartridges. Tomorrow we shall travel far,' said Hadji Murad.

‘There is powder and bullets. All will be ready,' said Gamzalo and he growled some incomprehensible remark.

Gamzalo knew why Hadji Murad was ordering them to get their guns loaded. Right from the start he had had only one desire, which as time went on had grown ever stronger: to kill and cut down as many of the Russian dogs as he could and escape to the mountains. He now saw that Hadji Murad wanted this, too, and he was content.

When Hadji Murad had gone, Gamzalo roused his companions and all four spent the night looking over their rifles and pistols, checking the touch-holes and flints, replacing poor ones, priming the pans with fresh powder, filling their cartridge pockets with measured charges of powder and bullets wrapped in oiled rags, sharpening their swords and daggers and greasing the blades with lard.

Near daybreak Hadji Murad again went into the hall to fetch water to wash before praying. The singing of the nightingales as they greeted the dawn was louder and more sustained than in the night. From the nukers' room came the even sound of steel grating and shrilling on stone as a dagger was sharpened. Hadji Murad ladled some water from the tub and had reached his own door when he heard another sound coming from the murids' room besides that of sharpening: it was the thin voice of Khanefi singing a song Hadji Murad knew. Hadji Murad stopped and listened.

The song told how the djigit Hamzad and his men drove off a herd of white horses from the Russian side, and how later across the Terck the Russian prince came on him and surrounded him with a great army as thick as a forest. The song wont on to tell how Hamzad slaughtered the horses and with his men held fast behind this bloody rampart of dead horses and fought the Russians as long as there were bullets in their guns and daggers at their belts and blood still flowed in their veins. But before dying Hamzad saw some birds in the sky and cried out to them: ' You birds of the air, fly to our homes and tell our sisters, our mothers and fair maidens that we died for the Ghazalwat. Tell them our bodies shall lie in no grave, our bones will be carried off and gnawed by ravening wolves and black crows will pick out our eyes.'

With these words, sung to a doleful refrain, the song ended, to be followed at once by the cheerful voice of the merry Khan-Mahoma who, as the song finished, bawled ‘La itaha illa allay and let out a piercing yell. Then all was quiet and again the only sound was the billing and singing of the nightingales in the garden and, through the door, the even grating and occasional shrilling note of steel slipping rapidly over stone.

Hadji Murad was so lost in thought that he did not notice he was tipping the jug and spilling water over himself. He shook his head reprovingly and went into his room.

When he had finished his morning prayers, Hadji Murad checked his weapons and sat on his bed. There was nothing else to do. To ride out he had to ask permission from the commissioner. It was still dark outside and the commissioner was still asleep.

Khanefi's song reminded Hadji Murad of another song, which his mother had made up. It was about an actual event something that had happened just after he was born, but which he had heard from his mother.

The song was this:

‘Your damask blade slashed open my white breast, but I pressed to it my darling boy, and washed him in my hot blood, and the wound healed without help of herbs and roots. I did not fear death, no more will my boy-djigit.'

The words of the song were addressed to Hadji Murad's father. The point of it was that when Hadji Murad was born the khanoum also gave birth to a son (Umma-Khan, her second son) and sent for Hadji Murad's mother to be his wet-nurse as she had been for the khanoum's elder son Abununtsal. But Patimat had not wanted to leave her son and refused to go. Hadji Murad's father got angry and ordered her to. when she still refused he stabbed her with his dagger and would have killed her if she had not been taken away. So, after all, she did not give up her son but raised him, and made up this song about what had happened.

Hadji Murad remembered his mother singing it to him as she put him to bed alongside her, under the fur top-coat on the roof of their house, and he asked her to show him her side where the scar was. He could see his mother just as she was not all wrinkled and grey with missing teeth as when he left her now, but young and beautiful and strong, so strong that even when he was five or six and heavy she carried him in a basket on her back to see his grandfather over the mountains.

And he remembered his grandfather with his wrinkled face and small grey beard. He was a silversmith and Hadji Murad remembered him engraving the silver with his sinewy hands and making him say his prayers. He remembered the fountain at the bottom of the hill where he went with his mother to fetch water, holding on to her trousers. He remembered the skinny dog that used to lick his face, and especially the smell and taste of smoke and sour milk when he followed his mother into the barn where she milked the cow and warmed the milk. He remembered the first time his mother shaved his head and how surprised he had been to see his little round head all blue in the shining copper basin that hung on the wall.

And remembering his childhood, he remembered too his own beloved son Yusuf, whose head he himself had shaved for the first time. Now Yusuf was a handsome young djigit. He remembered him as he last saw him. It was on the day he left Tselmes. His son brought his horse for him and asked if he could ride out and see him off. He was ready dressed and armed and holding his own horse by the bridle. Yusuf's young, ruddy, handsome face and everything about his tall slender figure (he was taller than his father) had seemed the very expression of youthful courage and the joy of living. His shoulders, broad for one so young, his very wide youthful hips and long slender body, his long powerful arms, and the strength, suppleness and dexterity of all his movements were a constant joy to his father and Hadji Murad always regarded his son with admiration.

‘You had better stay,' Hadji Murad had said. ‘You are the only one at home now. Take care of your mother and grandmother.'

And Hadji Murad remembered the look of youthful spirit and pride with which Yusuf, pleased and blushing, had replied that. as long as he lived, no one would harm his mother or grandmother. Yusuf had then, after all, mounted and gone with his father as far as the stream. There he turned back, and since that time Hadji Murad had not seen his wife, mother or son.

And this was the son whose eyes Shamil was going to put out. Of what would happen to his wife he preferred not to think.

Hadji Murad was so agitated by these thoughts that he could not sit still any longer. He jumped up and limped quickly to the door. He opened it and called Eldar. The sun was not yet up, but it was fully light. The nightingales still sang.

‘Go and tell the commissioner I want to go riding, and get the horses saddled,' he said.

Butler's only consolation at this time was the romance of military life, to which he surrendered himself not only when on duty but also in his private life. Dressed in Circassian costume, he performed the riding tricks of the natives and with Bogdanovich had twice gone out and lain in ambush, though on neither occasion did they catch or kill anyone. These daring deeds and friendship with Bogdanovich, who was well known for his bravery, seemed to Butler a pleasant and important part of life. He had paid his debt by borrowing the money from a Jew at an enormous rate of interest — which meant that he had simply deferred settling his still unresolved situation. He tried not to think about his situation and, as well as in military romancing, he also sought oblivion in wine. He was drinking more and more heavily and every day advanced his moral decay. He was no longer the handsome Joseph where Marya Dmitrievna was concerned, on the contrary he made coarse advances to her, and, much to his surprise, had received a resolute rebuff which put him thoroughly to shame.

At the end of April a column arrived at the fort under orders from Baryatinsky to make a new advance through all those parts of Chechnia which were considered impassable. There were two companies of the Kabarda Regiment and, according to established custom in the Caucasus, they were received as the guests of the units stationed at Kurinskoe. The soldiers were taken offto the different barracks and were not only given supper of beef and millet porridge but also served with vodka. The officers took up quarters with the local officers, who, as was customary, entertained their visitors.

The party ended with drinking and singing. Ivan Matveevich, who was very drunk and no longer red, but pale and grey in the face, sat astride a chair cutting down imaginary enemies with his drawn sword; he was swearing, laughing, embracing people and dancing to his favourite song ' In years gone by Shamil rose up, Ho-ro-ro, Shamil rose up'.

Butler was also present. In this, too, he tried to see the romance of military life, but deep down he felt sorry for Ivan Matveevich, though there was no way of stopping him. And Butler, feeling slightly drunk, quietly left and set off home.

A full moon was shining on the white houses and on the stones in the road. It was so light you could see every small stone, every piece of straw and dung on the road. As he approached thc house Butler met Marya Dmitrievna wearing a shawl over her head and shoulders. After the rebuff she had given him Butler had rather shamefacedly avoided her. But now in the moonlight and under the influence of the wine he had drunk Butler was glad to meet her and tried again to make up to her.

‘Where are you going?' he asked.

‘To see what the old man is up to,' she answered amicably. She had been quite sincere and positive in her rejection of Butler's advances, but she was displeased that he had been avoiding her of late.

‘What's the point of going after him? He'll get home.'

‘But will he?'

‘If he can't, they'll carry him.'

‘That's just it, and it really isn't good enough,' said Marya Dmitrievna. ' You think I shouldn't go then?'

‘No, I shouldn't. We had best go home.'

Marya Dmitrievna turned back and began walking to the house with Butler. The moon was so bright that around their shadows moving along the roadside was a moving halo of light. Butler watched this halo round his head and wanted to tell Marya Dmitrievna hat he found her as attractive as ever, but did not know how to begin. She waited for him to speak. Walking thus in silence they had almost reached the house when round the corner appeared some horsemen. It was an officer and escort.

‘Who on earth is that?' said Marya Dmitrievna, stepping to the side. The moon was behind the officer and it was only when he was practically level with them that Marya Dmitrievna saw who it was. The officer was Kamenev, who served at one time with Ivan Matveevich and so was known to Marya Dmitrievna.

Peter Nikolaevich,' she said. ‘Is that you?'

‘In person,' said Kamenev. ‘Ah, Butler! How are things? Not asleep yet? Walking out with Marya Dmitrievna, are you? You look out or you'll catch it from Ivan Matveevich. Where is he?'

‘You can hear him,' said Marya Dmitrievna, pointing to where there was the sound of singing and a bass drum. ‘They're having a binge.'

‘Your chaps, is it?'

‘No. A column is in from Khasav-Yurt and they're giving them a party.'

‘Ah, a good thing. I'll get to it myself. I only want to see him for a minute.

‘Is something up?' asked Butler.

‘Just a small matter.'

‘Good or bad?'

‘Depends who for. It's good for us, but tough on others.' And Kamenev laughed.

The couple walking and Kamenev had meanwhile reached Ivan Matveevich's house.

Kamenev called one of the Cossacks:

‘Chikhirev! Here!'

A Don Cossack moved forward from the rest and came up to them. He was in the ordinary Don Cossack uniform, wearing knee-boots and greatcoat, and had saddle-bags slung at the back of his saddle.

‘Get it out,' said Kamenev, dismounting.

The Cossack also got off his horse and from one of the saddle-bags drew out a sack with something in it. Kamenev took the sack from the Cossack and put his hand in it.

‘Shall I show you the latest, then? You won't be frightened?' he said, turning to Marya Dmitrievna.

‘What is there to be afraid of?' said Marya Dmitrievna.

‘There you are then,' said Kamenev and he pulled out a man's head and held it up in the moonlight. ' Do you recognize him?'

It was a shaven head, with prominent bulges of the skull over the eyes, trimmed black beard and clipped mustache; one eye was open, the other half-closed; the shaven skull was split and hacked about and the nose covered with black clotted blood. The neck was wrapped in a bloody towel. Despite all the wounds on the head, there was in the set of the now blue lips a childish, good-natured expression.

Marya Dmitrievna took one look and without a word turned and went quickly into the house.

Butler could not take his eyes off the terrible head. It was the head of that same Hadji Murad with whom he had recently spent his evenings having such friendly chats.

‘How did it happen? Who killed him? Where?' he asked.

‘He tried to make a break for it and they caught him,' said Kamenev, and handing the head back to the Cossack he went into the house with Butler.

‘He died like a real man,' said Kamenev.

‘But how did it all happen?'

‘Hang on a minute. When Ivan Matveevich comes I'll give you all the details. That's what I've been sent for. I have got to go round all the forts and villages showing them.'

Ivan Matveevich had been sent for and came back to the house drunk, with two other officers also much the worse for drink, and began embracing Kamenev.

‘I have come to see you,' said Kamenev. ' I have brought you the head of Hadji Murad.'

‘Go on with you! Has he been killed?'

‘Yes, he tried to escape.'

‘I always said he would do us down. Where is it then? His lead — let's see it.'

The Cossack was called and came in with the sack containing the head. The head was taken out, and for a long time Ivan Matveevich gazed at it with his drunken eyes.

‘He was a fine fellow just the same,' he said. ‘Let me kiss him.'

‘He was a daredevil chap, that's a fact,' said one of the officers.

When they had all inspected the head they gave it back to the Cossack. The Cossack replaced it in the sack, dropping it carefully so as not to bump it too hard on the floor.

‘What do you do, Kamenev — do you say something when you show it round?' asked one of the officers.

‘But I want to kiss him,' shouted Ivan Matveevich. ' He gave me a sword.'

Butler went out on to the porch. Marya Dmitrievna was sitting on the second step. she looked round at Butler and at once turned angrily away.

‘What's the matter, Marya Dmitrievna?' Butler asked.

‘You are just a lot of butchers. You make me sick. Butchers, that's what you are.'

‘It can happen to anyone,' said Butler, not knowing what to say. ‘That's war.'

‘War!' cried Marya Dmitrievna. ‘What's war? You are butchers, and that's all there is to it. A dead body should be decently buried and they make mock of it. Butchers, that's what you are!' she repeated and went down the steps and into the house by the back door.

Butler went back to the parlor and asked Kamenev to tell hint in detail what had happened.

And Kamenev told him.

It happened like this.

Hadji Murad was allowed to go riding in the neighborhood of the town provided that he went with a Cossack escort. There was only one troop of Cossacks altogether in Nukha; of these a dozen were detailed for staff duties and if, according to orders, escorts of ten men were sent out it meant that the remaining Cossacks had to do duty every other day. Because of this, after the first day when ten Cossacks were duly sent out, they decided to send only five men, at the same time requesting Hadji Murad not to take his whole party of nukers. However on 25 April all five of them accompanied Hadji Murad when he set off for his ride. As Hadji Murad was mounting, the commandant noticed that all five nukers were preparing to go and told Hadji Murad that he could not take then1 all, but Hadji Murad, appearing not to hear, spurred his horse, and the commandant did not insist. One of the Cossacks was a corporal, Nazarov, who had the St George's Cross, a young, healthy, fresh-faced fellow with light-brown hair cut in a fringe. He was the oldest child of a poor family of Old Believers; he had grown up with no father and kept his old mother, three sisters and two brothers.

‘See he doesn't go too far, Nazarov,' shouted the commandant.

‘Very good, sir,' replied Nazarov. Then, rising on his stirrups and steadying the rifle across his back, he set off at a trot on his big, trusty, long-muzzled chestnut stallion. The other four Cossacks followed him: Ferapontov, who was lean and lanky, the troop's leading pilferer and fixer — he it was who had sold powder to Gamzalo; Ignatov, who was middle-aged and nearing the end of his service, a healthy peasant type who boasted how strong he was; Mishkin, just a weedy boy, too young for active service, of whom everyone made fun; and Petrakov, young and fair-haired, his mother's only son, who was always amiable and cheerful.

It was misty first thing but by breakfast — time it was bright and fine with the sun shining on the freshly burst leaves, the young virginal grass, the shooting corn and the swift, rippling river on the left of the road.

Hadji Murad rode at a walk. The Cossacks and his nukers followed, keeping pace with him. Thus they rode out along the road behind the fort. On their way they met women carrying baskets on their heads, soldiers on wagons and creaking carts drawn by oxen. When they had gone a couple of miles Hadji Murad spurred his white Kabarda horse to a fast amble, and his nukers went into a quick trot. The Cossacks did the same.

‘Ay, that's a good horse he's got,' said Ferapontov. ‘I'd have him off it, if he was still a hostile like he used to be.'

‘Yes, mate, 300 rubles they offered for that horse in Tiflis.'

‘But I'd beat him on mine,' said Nazarov.

‘That's what you think!' said Ferapontov.

Hadji Murad continued to increase the pace.

‘Hi there, kunak, you mustn't do that! Not so fast!' shouted Nazarov, going after Hadji Murad.

Hadji Murad looked back. He said nothing and went on without slackening pace.

‘Watch out, those devils are up to something,' said Ignatov. ‘Look how they're going!'

They rode like this towards the mountains for half a mile or so.

‘Not so fast, I'm telling you,' Nazarov shouted again.

Hadji Murad did not answer or look back. He simply went faster and put his horse into a gallop.

‘Don't think you'll get away,' shouted Nazarov, stung by this.

He gave his big chestnut stallion the whip and, standing on the stirrups and leaning forward, rode flat out after Hadji Murad.

The sky was so clear, the air so fresh, Nazarov felt so full of the joy of life as he flew along the road after Hadji Murad, merging into one with his powerful, trusty horse that the possibility of anything wrong or sad or terrible happening never even occurred to him. He was delighted that with every stride he was gaining on Hadji Murad and getting close to him. Hearing the hoofbeats of the Cossack's big horse getting nearer Hadji Murad realized that he would very soon catch up with him and, seizing his pistol with his right hand, used his left to steady his excited Kabarda which could hear the beat of hoofs behind.

‘Not so fast, I say,' shouted Nazarov, now almost level with Hadji Murad and reaching out to seize the bridle of his horse. But before he could catch hold of it a shot rang out.

‘What's going on?' cried Nazarov, grasping at his heart. ‘Get them, lads!' he said as he swayed and fell forward over the saddle-bow.

But the mountaineers were quicker with their weapons than the Cossacks and fell on them with pistols firing and swords swinging Nazarov hung on the neck of his terrified horse which carried him in circles round his comrades. Ignatov's horse fell and crushed his leg. Two of the mountaineers drew their swords and without dismounting hacked him across the head and arms. Petrakov dashed to his aid but before he could reach him was struck by two bullets, one in the back and one in the side, and he toppled from his horse like a sack.

Mishkin turned his horse back and galloped for the fort. Khanefi and Khan-Mahoma chased after him, but he had too good a start and the mountaineers could not overtake him.

Seeing they could not catch up with him Khanefi and Khan Mahoma returned to their companions. Gamzalo dispatched Ignatov with his dagger and pulled Nazarov down from his horse before slitting his throat too. Khan-Mahoma took off the dead men's cartridge pouches. Khanefi was going to take Nazarov's horse, but Hadji Murad shouted to him to leave it and set off down the road. His murids galloped after him, trying to drive off the horse of Petrakov which followed them. They were already in the rice-fields two or three miles from Nukha when the alarm was sounded by a gunshot from the tower.

Petrakov lay on his back with his stomach slit open, his young face turned to the sky, gasping like a fish as he lay dying.

‘Merciful heavens above, what have they done!' cried the commander of the fort, clasping his head as he listened to Mishkin's report and heard of Hadji Murad's escape. ‘They've done for me! Letting him get away — the villains!'

A general alarm was raised. Every available Cossack was sent off in pursuit of the fugitives, and all the militia from the peaceable villages who could be mustered were called in as well. A thousand-ruble reward was offered to anyone bringing in Hadji Murad dead or alive. And two hours after Hadji Murad and his companions had ridden away from the Cossacks more than two hundred mounted men were galloping after the commissioner to seek out and capture the fugitives.

After traveling a few miles along the main road Hadji Murad pulled in his panting white horse, which was grey with sweat, and stopped. Off the road to the right were the houses and minaret of the village of Belardzhik, to the left were fields, on the far side of which was a river. Although the way to the mountains lay to the right Hadji Murad turned left in the opposite direction, reckoning that pursuers would be sure to head after him to the right. He meanwhile would make his way cross-country over the Alazan and pick up the highway again where no one expected him, take the road as far as the forest, then recrossing the river go on through the forest to the mountains. Having made this decision, he turned to the left. But it proved impossible to reach the river. The rice-field which they had to cross had just been flooded, as happened every spring, and it was now a quagmire in which the horses sank up to their fetlocks. Hadji Murad and his nukers turned right and left, expecting to find a drier part, but the field they had struck on was evenly flooded and sodden all over. The horses dragged their feet from the sticky mud with a sound like popping corks and every few paces stopped, panting heavily.

They struggled on like this for so long that when dusk fell they had still not reached the river. To the left was a small island with bushes in first leaf, and Hadji Murad decided to ride into the bushes and stay there till night, resting their exhausted horses.

When they were in the bushes Hadji Murad and his nukers dismounted, hobbled their horses and left them to graze. They themselves ate some of the bread and cheese they had brought with them. The new moon that had been shining sank behind the mountains and the night was dark. There was an unusual abundance of nightingales in Nukha; there were also two in these bushes. In the disturbance caused by Hadji Murad and his men as they rode into the bushes the nightingales fell silent, but as the human noises ceased the birds once more burst into song, calling and answering each other. Hadji Murad, straining his ears to the sounds of the night, listened involuntarily.

The singing of the nightingales reminded him of the song of Hamzad which he had heard the previous night when he went to get the water. Any time now he could find himself in the same situation as Hamzad. It struck him that it would indeed end like that and his mood suddenly became serious! He spread out his cloak and said his prayers. He had scarcely finished when sounds were heard coming towards the bushes. It was the sound of a large number of horses' feet trampling through the quagmire. The keen-eyed Khan-Mahoma ran to one edge of the bushes and in the darkness picked out the black shadows of men on foot and on horseback approaching the bushes. Khanefi saw another large group on the other side. It was Karganov, the district commandant, with his militia. We'll fight them as Hamzad did, thought Hadji Murad.

After the alarm was sounded Karganov had set off in hot pursuit of Hadji Murad with a squadron of militia and Cossacks, but he could find no sign of him or his tracks anywhere. Karganov had given up hope and was on his way back when towards evening they came upon an old Tatar. Karganov asked the old man if he had seen six horsemen. The old Tatar said he had. He had seen six horsemen riding to and fro across the rice-field and then go into the bushes where he collected firewood. Taking the old man with him, Karganov had gone back along the road and, seeing the hobbled horses, knew for certain that Hadji Murad was there. So in the night he had the bushes surrounded and waited till morning to take Hadji Murad dead or alive.

Realizing that he was surrounded, Hadji Murad discovered an old ditch in the middle of the bushes where he decided to make his stand and fight as long as he had ammunition and strength to do so. He told his comrades and ordered them to raise a rampart along the ditch. His nukers at once began cutting off branches and digging earth with their daggers to make a bank. Hadji Murad joined in the work with them.

As soon as it began to get light the commander of the militia squadron rode up close to the bushes and called out:

‘Hey there, Hadji Murad! Surrender! You're outnumbered!'

By way of reply there was a puff of smoke from the ditch, the crack of a rifle and a bullet struck the horse of one of the militiamen, which shied and fell After this there was a rattle of fire from the rifles of the militia positioned on the edge of the bushes. Their bullets whistled and hummed, clipping the leaves and branches and landing in the rampart, but none of them hit the men behind. All they hit was Gamzalo's horse which had strayed off. It was wounded in the head but did not fall; snapping its hobble, it crashed through the bushes to the other horses, nestling against them and spilling its blood on the young grass. Hadji Murad and his men only fired when one of the militiamen showed himself and they seldom missed. Three militiamen were wounded and their comrades not only hesitated to charge Hadji Murad and his men, but dropped farther and farther back, firing only random shots at long range.

This went on for over an hour. The sun had risen half-way up the trees and Hadji Murad was just considering whether to mount and attempt a break for the river when the shouts of a fresh large force of men were heard. This was Hadji-Aha of Mekhtuli and his men. There were about 200 of them. At one time Hadji-Aha had been a kunak of Hadji Murad and lived with him in the mountains, but he had then gone over to the Russians. With him was Akhmet-Khan, the son of Hadji Murad's enemy. Hadji-Aha began as Karganov had done by calling on Hadji Murad to surrender, but as on the first occasion Hadji Murad replied with a shot.

‘Out swords and at them!' cried Hadji-Aha, snatching his own from its sheath, and there was a sound of hundreds of voices as men charged shrieking into the bushes.

The militiamen got among the bushes, but several shots in succession came cracking from the rampart. Three or four men fell and the attackers halted. They now opened fire from the edge of the bushes too. They fired and, running from bush to bush, gradually edged towards the rampart. Some managed to get across, while others fell to the bullets of Hadji Murad and his men. Hadji Murad never missed; Gamzalo's aim was no less sure and he gave a delighted yelp each time he saw his bullet strike home. Kurban sat by the edge of the ditch chanting ‘La ilaha illa allah'; he took his time in firing, but rarely got a hit. Meanwhile, Eldar was quivering all over in his impatience to rush the enemy with his dagger; he fired often and at random, continually looking round at Hadji Murad and showing himself above the rampart. The shaggy-haired Khanefi continued his role as servant even here. With rolled up sleeves he reloaded the guns as they were handed to him by Hadji Murad and Kurban, carefully ramming home the bullets in oiled rags with an iron ram-rod and priming the pans with dry powder from a horn. Khan-Mahoma did not keep to the ditch like the others, but kept running across to the horses to get them to a safer place, all the time shrieking and casually firing without resting his gun. He was the first to be wounded. He was struck by a bullet in the neck and collapsed backwards spitting blood and cursing. Hadji Murad was wounded next. A bullet went through his shoulder. He tore some wadding from his jacket to plug the wound and went on firing.

‘Let's rush them with our swords,' urged Eldar for the third time. He rose above the rampart ready to charge the enemy, but was instantly struck by a bullet. He staggered and fell backwards across Hadji Murad's leg. Hadji Murad looked at him. His handsome sheep's eyes stared earnestly up at him. His mouth, with its upper lip pouting like a child's, quivered but did not open. Hadji Murad freed his leg and went on taking aim. Khanefi bent over Eldar's dead body and quickly began taking the unused cartridges from his cherkeska. Meanwhile Kurban want on chanting, slowly loading and taking aim.

The enemy, whooping and screeching as they ran from bush to bush, were getting nearer and nearer. Hadji Murad was hit by another bullet in the left side. He lay down in the ditch and plugged the wound with another piece of wadding from his jacket. This wound in his side was mortal and he felt that he was dying. One after another images and memories flashed through his mind. Now he saw the mighty Abununtsal Khan clasping to his face his severed, hanging cheek and rush ing at his enemies with dagger drawn; he saw Vorontsov, old, feeble and pale with his sly, white face and heard his soft voice; he saw his son Yusuf, Sofiat his wife, and the pale face, red beard and screwed up eyes of his enemy Shamil.

And these memories running through his mind evoked no feelings in him, no pity, ill-will or desire of any kind. It all seemed so insignificant compared to what was now beginning and had already begun for him. But his powerful body meanwhile continued what it had started to do. Summoning the last remnants of his strength, he lifted himself above the rampart and fired his pistol at a man running towards him. He hit him and the man fell. Then he crawled completely out of the ditch and, with his dagger drawn and limping badly, went straight at the enemy. Several shots rang out. He staggered and fell. A number of militiamen rushed with a triumphant yell towards his fallen body. But what they supposed was a dead body suddenly stirred. First his bloodstained, shaven head, its papakha gone, then his body lifted; then, holding on to a tree, Hadji Murad pulled himself fully up. He looked so terrifying that the advancing men stopped dead. But suddenly he gave a shudder, staggered from the tree, and like a scythed thistle fell full length on his face and moved no more.

He did not move, but could still feel, and when Hadji-Aha, the first to reach him, struck him across the head with his great dagger, he felt he was being hit on the head with a hammer and failed to understand who was doing this and why. This was the last conscious link with his body. He felt no more, and the object that was trampled and slashed by his enemies had no longer any connection with him. Hadji-Alla put a foot on the body's back, with two strokes hacked off its head and rolled it carefully away with his foot so as not to get blood on his boots. Blood gushed over the grass, scarlet from the neck arteries, black from the head.

Karganov, Hadji-Aha, Aklmlet-Khan and the militiamen gathered over the bodies of Hadji Murad and his men (Khanefi, Kurban and Gamzalo were bound) like hunters over a dead beast, standing among the bushes in the gunsmoke, gaily chatting and celebrating their victory.

The nightingales, which were silent while the shooting lasted, again burst into Song, first one near by, then others in the distance.

This was the death that was brought to my mind by the crushed thistle in the ploughed field.

« Prev Chapter XVII Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection