From Hingpo to Lien Chi Altangi, by the way of Moscow.
YOU will probably be pleased to see my letter dated from Terki, a city which lies beyond the bounds of the Persian empire: here, blessed with security, with all that is dear, I double my raptures, by communicating them to you; the mind sympathiz∣ing with the freedom of the body, my whole soul is dilated in gratitude, love, and praise.
Yet were my own happiness all that inspired my pre∣sent joy, my raptures might justly merit the imputa∣tion of self-interest; but when I think that the beauti∣ful Zelis is also free, forgive my triumph when I boast of having rescued from captivity the most deserving object upon earth.
You remember the reluctance she testified at being obliged to marry the tyrant she hated. Her compliance at last was only feigned, in order to gain time to try Page 257 some future means of escape. During the interval be∣tween her promise and the intended performance of it, she came undiscovered one evening to the place where I generally retired after the fatigues of the day; her appearance was like that of an aerial genius, when, it descends to minister comfort to undeserved distress; the mild lustre of her eye served to banish my timidity; her accents were sweeter than the echo of some distant symphony. "Unhappy stranger, said she, in the Persian language, you here perceive one more wretched than thyself; all this solemnity of preparation, this elegance of dress, and the number of my attendants, serve but to encrease my miseries; if you have courage to rescue an unhappy woman from approaching ruin, and our detested tyrant, you may depend upon my •u∣ture gratitude." I bowed to the ground, and she left me, filled with rapture and astonishment. Night brought no rest, nor could the ensuing morning calm the anxieties of my mind. I projected a thousand me∣thods for her delivery; but each, when strictly exa∣mined, appeared impracticable; in this uncertainty the evening again arrived, and I placed myself on my for∣mer station in hopes of a repeated visit. After some short expectation, the bright perfection again appeared; I bowed, as before, to the ground; when raising me up she observed, that the time was not to be spent in useless ceremony; she observed that the day following was appointed for the celebration of her nuptials, and that something was to be done that very night for our mutual deliverance. I offered with the utmost humi∣lity to pursue whatever scheme she should direct; upon which she proposed that instant to scale the garden wall, adding, that she had prevailed upon a female slave, who was now waiting at the appointed place, to assist her with a ladder.
Page 258 Pursuant to this information I led her trembling to the place appointed; but instead of the slave we ex∣pected to see, Mostadad himself was there awaiting our arrival; the wretch in whom we confided, it seems, had betrayed our design to her master, and he now saw the most convincing proofs of her informa∣tion. He was just going to draw his sabre, when a principle of avarice repressed his fury, and he resolved, after a severe chastisement, to dispose of me to another master, in the mean time ordering me to be confined in the stricteit manner, and the next day to receive an hundred blows on the soles of my feet.
When the morning came I was led out in order to receive the punishment, which, from the severity with which it is generally inflicted upon slaves, is worse e∣ven than death.
A trumpet was to be a signal for the solemnization of the nuptials of Zelis, and for the infliction of my punishment. Each ceremony to me equally dreadful was just going to begin, when we were informed that a large party of Circassian Tartars had invaded the town, and were laying all in ruin. Every person now thought of saving himself; I instantly unloosed the cords with which I was bound, and seizing a scymetar from one of the slaves who had not courage to resist me, flew to the women's apartment where Zelis was confined, dressed out for the intended nuptials. I bade her follow me without delay; and going forward, cut my way through eunuchs, who made but a faint re∣sistance. The whole city was now a scene of confla∣gration and terror; every person was willing to save himself, unmindful of others. In this confusion seiz∣ing upon two of the fleetest coursers in the stables of Page 259 Mostadad, we fled northward towards the kingdom of Circassia As there were several others flying in the same manner, we passed without notice, and in three days arrived at Terki, a city that lies in a valley within the bosom of the ••owning mountains of Caucasus.
Here, free from every apprehension of danger, we enjoy all those satisfactions which are consistent with virtue; though I find my heart at intervals give way to unusual passions, yet such is my admiration for my fair companion, that I lose even tenderness in distant respect. Though her person demands particular re∣gard even among the beauties of Circassia, yet is her mind far more lovely. How very different is a woman who thus has cultivated her understanding, and been refined into delicacy of sentiment, from the daughters of the east, whose education is only formed to improve the person, and make them more tempting objects of prostitution!