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with me, and one personage of high rank who sat next to me, was extremely affable.
“The reason of the strange and stern behaviour I had experienced was afterwards disclosed to me. My cousin, it appears, had been brought into an adjoining room, and I was shown to her through an opening in the wall. Being asked if I was her brother, she replied that I was not, and that she did not know me; she begged, however, that I might be made to speak; and when I, suspecting nothing, addressed him who offered ine the cakes, she at once recognised my voice, acknowledged me as her cousin, and mentioned my name. Eight years of separation and my present dress will account for her not recognising me immediately. If it had not fortunately occurred to her to hear my voice, I should have been taken for an impostor, if not for a spy, and death would have been my certain doom. We remained a long time at table, in conversation, during which I was evidently being closely scrutinized.
" The next day, beginning to breathe more freely under a sense of security, I invited Egie Adschi to take a walk with me through the valley. Being willing to try the skill of the Circassian watchmaker, I had a new glass put into my watch, which he executed well. On our return, I again received an invitation to supper from Schamyl. I went, expecting to see the renowned chief himself, but he was not present. After supper I said to one of the naïbs, 'If I am unworthy of seeing your imam, allow mo at least the honour of begging your intercession that I may see my cousin.' ‘God will grant your request,' replied he ; after which we returned to our quarters.
"I had scarcely reached Egie Adschi's house, when a secretary of Schamyl's appeared with the order to conduct me to where I might see my cousin. Egie Adschi bacie me take a dagger, seizing a musket himself, and we repaired to the middle fortress, where the wives and the most precious property of the imam are treasured up. His two wives live in separaté dwellings, which are provided with balconies after the European fashion,
“At the door of the inner fortress were two murids standing as guards -one outside, and the other inside. Indeed, Schamyl neglects no precautionary measures. He never even goes to pray in the mosque, except through his murids, who stand in two rows with drawn swords. entrance, I found that the room of my cousin was ornamented with carpets, and contained chairs and couches, like those of Georgia. My cousin, accompanied by six women, soon made her appearance from another apartment. I bowed to her, while Egie Adschi remained at the door. In a few minutes her companions rose, and, saluting me with covered faces, left the room. I then, in the Armenian tongue, begged her to uncover her face. She answered, in the Kumuck tongue, that she understood me, but as she might make mistakes in her answers, requested me to speak to her in Kumuck. I judged from this that she feared Egie Adschi might suspect her of communicating secrets ; I therefore explained to him what I said, and begged him to persuade my cousin to remove her veil.
* • Mother,' said Adschi, approaching her, *as, according to our customs, a woman can remove her veil only in the presence of her brethren, take me for your younger brother, and do me and your cousin the favour to
uncover your face, as a reward for the trouble he had in scaling the moun. tains to come to see you.' Thus entreated, she readily removed the veil, whereupon we conversed more freely; but, just at this juncture, a door into the passage suddenly opened, the veil was again hastily dropped, and Schamyl entered the room.
I sprang from my seat with ardour, and Egie Adschi approached and kissed the hand of the imam with reverence. I was about to follow his example, but Schamyl would not suffer me. He sat down on a couch, begged me to do the same, and we entered into conversation.
“Schamyl is a stately figure, of grave carriage, with light red hair, and large eyes ; his face is freckled, and his hand is red. His dress consisted of a dark satin jacket, and a red cloth cloak, like those worn by the highest dignitaries of the Mohammedan priesthood. On his head he wore a small red fez, with a large tassel. Once, on going to the mosque, I had seen him with a large turban on his head.
“ As soon as I was seated, Schamyl asked me, in well-chosen expressions, if I got over the journey safely, how the roads and mountains pleased me, from whom I had obtained permission to come, and what was the real object of my journey. I replied that the mountains delighted me, but not the roads, which were so bad that, if I had anticipated so much ruggedness, I should not have undertaken the journey ; I further informed him that I had obtained the permission of our authorities to pay the visit; and, finally, that my sole object was to see my cousin, and to ascertain how she was. Schamyl repeated his inquiry as to who had given me an authorization to travel through Tschetschna.
“"I was fortunate enough,' I replied, 'to have your own permission, in reply to my letter.'
“ 'I would give the permission to many,' observed Schamyl, ‘only I do not know who would venture to undertake the journey.'.
“May God be with you,' I replied ; 'my journey hither depended on me; my departure, however, depends on your good will and favour.'
" • Be it so,' said Schamyl, with a smile ; but I think a second will not so easily be found to venture on such a step.'
“He then questioned me about the French, about Hungary, and about our army.
gave him all the information in my power, and then begged the imam to accept a present from me, according to our custom. Why should I not?' he replied. Thus encouraged, I took from my bosom a lady's gold watch, and presented it to my cousin, while to Schamyl I offered a gold chronometer and chain. The chief declined to take them in his own hand, and my cousin bade me lay them upon the couch, which I accordingly did.
" Is it really the custom for your country,' asked Schamyl, “to give and receive presents ?
“I answered in the affirmative. The conversation was now continued for another half hour, at the expiration of which period Schamyl rose and left the room.
Left alone once more with my cousin, she again uncovered her face. Towards the close of the evening I was offered tea, pears, apples, and grapes. I was astonished to see fresh grapes in the month of May; but my cousin explained to me that in Circassia the natives understood the art of preserving the grapes of the past season until the new ones are ready for gathering.
* After we had remained here till nightfall, I took leave of my cousin, and departed in company with Egie Adschi, who strictly forbade me to say anything in reference to my interview with the imam. “If anybody asks you,' said he, 'say merely that you have seen your cousin ; when you are away from here, however, you can say what you please.'
"Why so ?' I inquired, with surprise. “Do you think your people would laugh at me?'
“ They would not only laugh,' said he, “but they would murder you if you permit them to know that you have had any intercourse with Schamyl.'
“I begged my companion to explain to me the meaning of his dark and mysterious warning.
“ “You have eaten twice with the Naïbs,' said he ; 'but you have not seen Schamyl at the common table on either occasion. And the reason of this absence is, because, according to the laws of our religion, the imam may not sit at the same table with a giaour. Now you know why you must bridle your tongue if you would return with a whole skin.'
“ The next day 1 solicited permission to depart, and wished to take a final leave of my cousin. Instead of an answer to my request, I received from Schamyl a handsome horse as a present, and the secretary of the imam at the same time informed me that orders had been given that I should have an escort of thirty men, and that the Naib Dabu had instructions to conduct me to the vicinity of the fortress from which I had started on this perilous journey. We departed next morning, and, as my companions took a shorter way, I arrived safely the same evening at my native place.”
THE AMAZON VALLEY.
The basin of the river Amazon is the largest in the world, and the volume of fresh water which it pours into the ocean is much the largest also, whilst the richness of its productions and the fertility of its soil render it capable of supporting a greater population than any other region of equal extent. Some account of this remarkable valley cannot but be interesting to the reader.
Starting from lake Lauricocha, as its source, and following the main curves of this mighty river, without regarding its minuter windings, its length is two thousand seven hundred and forty miles. Its length in a straight line from east to west is about two thousand and fifty miles. The area of its basin, exclusive of the Tocantins, is two million three hundred and thirty thousand square miles, or more than a third of all South America. All western Europe, says Mr. Wallace, could be placed in it without touching its boundaries.
Its tributary streams--many of them equal to the largest European rivers differ both in their botany and zoology and in the colour of their waters. They may be divided into the white, the blue, and the black water rivers. Thus, for example, the Rio Negro, even at its mouth, appears as black as ink, although in shallow water it is seen to be paler than it is nearer its source. It is remarkable that mosquitos are scarcely ever found on the black water rivers.
The whole basin, with a very small exception, is one immense plain. The velocity of the Amazon varies with the width of the stream, and the time of the year. At Obidos, which is five hundred miles from the mouth of the river, the velocity was four miles an hour in the month of November, when the Amazon is at its lowest level. The tide appears not to enter the river, for at its mouth the water is always quite fresh, and is drunk all the year through ; and during the flow, as well as the ebb, the current runs rapidly down. But the rising of the ocean causes a corresponding rise in the Amazon, and hence has arisen the statement that the tide flows five hundred miles up the river. We may, indeed, suppose that the heavier water of the tide flows up at the bottom of the river, though it is difficult to imagine how this could take place without the appearance of some salt water at the margins. In the month of January, when the Amazon begins to rise, the Rio Negro is rendered stagnant for several hundred miles, and in the Tapajoz at the end of the dry season, the waters are so forced back by the tidal rise of the Amazon that they are flowing up, whilst those of the latter river are flowing rapidly down.
In the main stream of the Amazon, and in all the branches which flow from the Andes, the waters begin to rise in December or January, when the rains generally commence, and continue rising till June. The time when they begin to fall, seldom varies more than a few days from the 21st of June. The total rise between high and low water mark is often probably fifty feet. In other words, a surface of at the least twenty thousand square miles of running water is raised fifty feet every year. But this is not all. The banks of the river are flooded, sometimes on one and sometimes on both sides, to a distance of twenty or thirty miles on the main river, and on portions of its great branches. Hence the trees of the virgin forest are every year from ten to forty feet under water in these flooded parts for six months. Here the Indians have canoe-paths, which are much frequented, to avoid the strong current of the main stream. At the mouth of the Amazon the annual rise and fall is scarcely felt, but the low lands are flooded every fortnight by the spring tides.
Mr. Wallace, who resided four years in the valley of the Amazon, was never able to find a single fossil —not even a shell. Abrupt peaks spring up from the plain to a height of from one hundred to three thousand feet, and form a peculiarity in the geology of the valley, since the country has no perceptible rise at their bases.
From June to December is the dry, and from January to May the wet season of the Amazon Valley. In the dry season there are a few occasional rains, and there are intervals of fine weather, with many bright mornings and days of gentle, misty rain in the wet season. There are, however, remarkable exceptions to the general law of climate in this valley. In the country, about the falls of the Rio Negro, there is a constant alternation of showers and sunshine almost all the year round. It is said that there are some very cold days in the month of May on the upper Amazon and Rio Negro, though Mr. Wallace did not experience anything of this kind. He received an authentic account of a fall of hail on the upper Amazon, which astonished the children at play, who brought the cold substance which had fallen from the clouds in wonder to their parents.
Except in some very small portions, the valley of the Amazon is covered with one dense forest, the most extensive on the face of the earth. The traveller may journey for months in any direction, and yet scarcely find an acre of ground unoccupied by trees. The following numerical data may be relied upon with considerable confidence. For the first thousand miles, the width of this forest is about four hundred miles; but as we advance into the interior it stretches out to a breadth of seventeen hundred. This is in longitude sixty-seven degrees. From one point- about sixty miles south-east of Tabatinga--a circle of eleven hundred miles in diameter may be described, whose entire area is virgin forest. In these forests two individuals of the same species are rarely seen together, except in certain cases. On a road for ten miles, through the forest near Para, there are only two specimens of the Cow tree, and they are equally scarce throughout the adjoining district. Canoes and schooners on the Rio Negro are often constructed of half-a-dozen different kinds of wood, and these sometimes differing in colour and in hardness. Trees bearing fruit, or endowed with medicinal qualities, are often so widely dispersed that two or three only supply a whole village. Even India-rubber and Brazil nuts are collected over an immense extent of country, so that the trees which produce them are only partial exceptions