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JAMES M'GLASHAN, 21, D'OLIER-STREET.
W. S. ORR AND COMPANY, LONDON.
Hilver Colorado Libraries - Boutde-
THE PEARL OF THE BOSPHORUS-A TALE OF THE PHANAR.
IN TWO PARTS.-Part first.
CHAPTER I.-THE GREEK RAYAH AND HIS FAMILY.
THERE is no spectacle which nature can offer to us more beautiful than the sunset of an Eastern clime. It is beautiful; yet how unlike the not less lovely perishing of day in our own land, when the sunbeams linger on the green fields and gushing streams, as though they mourned to leave the sweet earth they had gladdened with their smiles, long after the pale, timid stars have come stealing forth, one by one, from the depths of the unfathomable. In the East, it is a magnificent sight to see the sun going down to his rest, like an unconquered warrior still fierce and terrible! Throughout the whole day, he has rolled glaring and flaming along the burning vault, drinking up the mists from the parched earth, and destroying every fleeting cloud; and now, when his hour is come, with unabated strength, and with redoubled swiftness, he rushes down the etherial height, and perishes, as he has lived, in a blaze of glory! Then, swift and sudden from his gorgeous death-bed, night arises to claim the inheritance he has left; she flings her veil of darkness over the world, now dull and rayless, like one who casts a shroud on the cold limbs of the dead, and ascending to the cloudless heavens, she rolls back the dazzling sheet of light that curtained them, and unfolds the portals of infinity, that all may see at once the glorious ranks of the interminable worlds within. When her dominion is thus established, there never fails to steal through the air, like the last sigh of nature for her departed sunshine, a gentle breeze, which is named the "Imbat," and beneath whose cool, VOL. XXIX.-No. 169.
soft breath the drooping earth revives at last.
And now the life-restoring "Imbat" is sweeping over as fair a city as ever was fashioned by the hand of man, and the pure, cloudless night has veiled a landscape which yields to none on earth in serene and smiling beauty; but it is one prominent feature in the moral aspect of this world, which all who have wandered from land to land must often have clearly noted, that it is ever in the fairest and most peaceful scenes that human corruption seems most rife, and ever where nature looks her loveliest, that the deadliest of men's passions rise rampant to deface it! The very name of that imperial cityof Constantinople-conjures up dark images of death and horror, and recalls the blood-stained annals of the hard, cruel race who, from generation to generation, have sent rapine and murder to run riot in her streets, and have built them fairy palaces, and laid out green, luxuriant gardens, to be but the haunts of infamy and vice! Even to-night, tranquil and smiling as it seems to sleep beneath the starlit sky, wild rumours are afloat within the city, and deeds of violence have been performed during the last few days, which are but the precursors to a more extensive and terrible vengeance; for it is the summer of the year 1821, and that year lives to this day in the memory of thousands !-not so much because the whole nation of regenerated Greeks may cry, exultingly, "Then we became free!" as because every here and there an aged father may still murmur out, "Then I became child
less!" or a widow and an orphan tell how, in that year, their country stole from them a husband and a parent!
Just as the last ray of light struck upon each golden cupola, like the sunbeam that drew melody from the stony lips of Memnon, it seemed instantaneously to awaken a strange melodious voice within the city. Clear and distinct, the musical call to prayers arose, caught up, and repeated from mosque to mosque, from minaret to minaret, from Europe to Asia!-and at the sound the obedient worshippers bowed down, far and near, on the roofs of their houses, or in their gardens, wherever they had come to breathe the fresh night air. There was one group, however, assembled on the terrace of a villa close to the Bosphorus, who allowed this universal call to a mistaken worship to arise unheeded, and the last sound had died far away in the gardens of Asia, whilst they still retained their motionless attitudes. Their house was the largest and handsomest in that portion of the city of Constantinople, which is called the "PHANAR," and had long been devoted exclusively to the residence of all the noble Greek families during the period of the Turkish dominion in their own country, and the party that, according to the invariable custom, had come to spend the evening in the open air, were all admirable types of the true Hellenic aristocracy. The most prominent figure in the group was that of a stately and dignified old man, who reclined on a pile of cushions, listlessly holding in his hand the jewelled mouthpiece of the crystal narghile that stood beside him. He wore the dress of the Greek Rayahs of that period-a long pelisse of purple cachemere, lined with costly furs, and hanging loosely round him, so as to display his inner garment of striped silk, which was bound at the waist by a magnificent shawl; from beneath his scarlet fez or cap, the flowing hair, soft and silky as that of a child, rolled down in snow white masses over his shoulders, and mingled with the long streaming beard that fell on his breast. His truly venerable appearance, as well as the deep furrows that marked his noble forehead, showed sufficiently that he had seen
the light of many summers, but his fine countenance was, notwithstanding, altogether devoid of that expression of deep inward calm, of a mental répose which is almost passiveness, that is so peculiar to the very aged as to seem, indeed, a sort of foretaste of that far deeper rest, to which they are hastening fast. His light blue eyes, though dim with many tears, had an anxious, unquiet gaze, and even as he sat silent, the working of his features gave evidence of many agitating thoughts within.
At some distance from him two remarkably fine-looking young men, dressed in the full Greek costume, were standing together, engaged in earnest conversation; they leant on the stone balustrade of the terrace, looking down into the beautiful garden which surrounded the house, and spoke in a low tone, as though on a subject of deep interest. The old man was the Prince Constantine C-, who, at an earlier period of his life, had been Hospodar of Moldavia. One of the young men, proud and dignified as himself, was his son Anthymos; and the other, named Riga Galati, whose murdered father had been his dearest friend, was his "psycho pethi" (literally "son of his soul"), which is the term they give in Romaic, to an adopted child.
On a low cushion, at the feet of the aged Prince, sat his only daughter, who, throughout the whole of Pera, was known by no other name than that of the "Pearl of the Bosphorus." This title had been assigned to her, not so much on account of her delicate beauty, though her's was a face to recall the image of some pure, pale star, with the fair hair floating round it like the golden clouds, as for all those higher qualities of mind and intellect, which gave her so marked a superiority over her young Phanariote companions.
Erota C- was from infancy one of those pure and gentle spirits, to whom it seems given to walk, angellike, through a corrupt and a deceitful world, with the white robes of their innocence unsullied to the last! and to this rare and beautiful disposition, she added talents of no common order. Her mother had died early,
* The "narghile" is almost the same as the "hookah" of India.
so that, contrary to the usual mode of education adopted for the daughters of the Greeks, which involves a system of almost Moslem seclusion, her father had associated her constantly with himself, in the vicissitudes of his varied and painful career. He could not bear that his sweet and loving child should ever be absent from his side, for she was, indeed, the last sunbeam of the chequered and tempestuous life whose sun was even now about to go down in darkness, and the circumstances of their varying fortunes had greatly tended to draw out the powers of her reflecting mind.
Erota's brief existence had just embraced that period when first her enslaved and degraded country had given symptoms of its glorious awaking from the sleep of lethargy which bound it so long in the dominion of the Turks, and even now, from shore to shore of her native Greece, the watchword of "Liberty or Death" was sounding, and the preparations for a universal insurrection, long carried on in the profoundest secrecy, were ripe for execution.
In other respects the education of the gentle Pearl had not differed from that of all young maidens of the Pha
She had been taught to embroider, and to make sweetmeats of rose leaves, and other lady-like accomplishments; but she had also been taught to read, and of this latter acquirement she had made ample use, unlike most of her young friends, who greatly preferred sitting all day combing out their long hair, or bathing their aristocratic little hands in cool scented water.
is true the Pearl had no other books than the four Gospels, and some old legends of blessed martyrs and departed saints; but she drew from them the promise of a holier and a happier life, when this, which was opening to her so full of tempests and alarms, should have passed away. And though she was but sixteen-that age when to most the world is made bright by the young heart's own sunshine-she had that early maturity of mind, which teaches before the time of miseries that can make the wearied eyes right glad to close for ever, even upon so beautiful an earth!
The stillness had been uninterrupted for some time, and the hand of the ged Prince wandered idly among the golden curls of his daughter's hair
when, suddenly starting up, he exclaimed, "Who is there who comes?" with an accent which showed how, at that period, the smallest incident was a source of alarm, and the safety of one hour no guarantee for that of the next.
"It is Theophani, my Dada (or nurse)," said Erotà, soothingly; and the old man sunk back with a sigh of relief.
Theophani, a little old wrinkled woman, with a long scarf of crape twisted round her red cap, to show that she was a widow, and a pair of the brightest black eyes that ever were seen, came forward with many salutations. She was but an oriental specimen of a class which happily is confined to no one nation or country, for she had been many years the attached and faithful servant of the C- family, devoted even unto the death, since assuredly she would have given her life for her beautiful Pearl. Highness," she said, addressing the Prince, "a Greek, a stranger monk, is in the lower court, and requests permission to come into your presence, and rest from the fatigues of a long journey."
"A monk, a stranger!" said Constantine, distrustfully; "Anthymos, do you hear?"
"He may well be no monk, and no Greek," said Anthymos, approaching anxiously.
"Far more likely a spy in disguise," added Riga Galati.
"My Effendis! what are you saying?" exclaimed Theophani, clasping her hands. "It is a holy and blessed monk, if ever there was one !"
"But, Theophani, have you ever seen him before-do you know him to be a monk?" said Anthymos.
"Should I know the precious Saint Dimitri for a true and mighty saint, if he came upon the earth, though I never saw him-may he defend us!" here she made the sign of the cross; "I tell you it is a most pious monk; did I not kiss his hands, as well I might! and did he not give me his blessing!"
The young men still did not seem to think this evidence conclusive, when she added, "He bid me say his name was Neophytus, and that he came from Kishneff.'
"From Kishneff!" exclaimed Anthymos, his eye brightening suddenly. "Oh my father it is-it must be."