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siile; and we mark together the company and the progress of the game. As usual, ladies are here, and one of them—can it be! Yes, it is the same who first arrested my attention at the gamblingtable of W !* I am now informed that she is
a French countess. And here is her husband beside her, polished and elegant in his aspect, and calm and cool in his mien. Every night they are here, until one morning I see a carriage laden with baggage at the door of one of the large hotels, and the gambling pair take their departure, possibly to some other scene where their ruling passion can be gratified, and with the hope that '' better luck" awaits them. French only is spoken at this table. See that veteran croupier in the centre, who, with impassive face, shuffles the cards, crying out, as he prepares to expose their black or red faces, as it may be, on the table, "Faites le jeu, Messieurs .'" (Play, gentlemen!) And those who are disposed, put down their money. Here are two gentlemen who are bold players. They never stake silver. A pile of Napoleons lies at the side of each One of them is about sixty years of age, tall and robust, with red face and close-cropped white hair; the other is a little black-haired, dark-eyed man; arid both appear to be habitues of the place. Three gold pieces form the first stake, and the player winning, the sum is doubled. One of the six Napoleons now on the cloth is withdrawn, five remain, and a second favorable turn of the cards causes the bank to pay over five more. And now will not this suffice? or, at least, will not the players begin again with a low stake, as before! At this moment is pointed out one of the "brothers Lenoir," who seems to be doing nothing in the background but nodding and chatting, with perfect nonchalance, to some acquaintances; but watch him narrowly, and he is peering stealthily at the table, and beginning to be somewhat discomposed, for the game to-night has hitherto gone against the bank. But caution on the part of the players is gone, and golden visions beckon onward. And so that ruby-faced gentleman leaves his ten gold pieces on the cloth; another turn of the cards, and all is gone! But now mark that young Austrian count, with the English military officer in undress, and wearing an imperial, sitting beside him. The young count is of Irish extraction. He is always seen at the wells drinking daily; but, although so gay at night and so gallant by day, as he walks with the leading belles on the public promenade, there is a deadly paleness on his cheek at all times. It appears that, on parade at Vienna, he was struck with a musket-ball (whether by accident or otherwise was not stated), which is still unextracted; his health is evidently feeble and failing. But every night he is here; his stakes are modest in their amount, for Iris funds are not ample. And that English officer, who came hero a few days ago, has already lost £180; and has told my young Indian friend that he is determined to win it back again or to lose every thing. To-night he looks nervous, humiliated, and miserable; and, as the young count speaks the English tongue, he seems half-despair
ingly to cling to him as a counselor and comforter. But it is in vain. The tide is still against him, and he seems destined to drink deeply and justly of the cup of bitterness which his own folly has mingled. And that dark-whiskered English attache, who has lately come here from the
court of B , has also lost a large sum. Alas!
these are but specimens of innumerable victims. How true it is in this, and all kindred matters, that "the beginning of sin is like the letting out of water!" How well is this enforced in the picture drawn by a writer already quoted, who, after close personal observation, writes thus: "To watch the first casual glance of a new comer; to see how by degrees his careless air becomes fixed; the gaze darkens; the eye sharpens; the whole man becomes engrossed with the view. To see him make his first hesitating deposit, by degrees go deeper and deeper, and then plunge in, heart, and life, and soul, borne on to conquest or to ruin by the great torrent of excitement. To see here and there one leaving, now something draw off, then yield to the potent fascination, and reseat himself. To see a timid and amiable-looking woman stand behind, hiddenly draw forth her purse as she watches the progress of the play, hand the stake to the gentleman of the party who stands before her, till, fired by the alternations of loss and gain, she pushes by degrees to the front, takes a seat, and from that moment becomes a prey to the worst writhings and spurrings of the human soul."
Before this overmastering passion for play, the barriers of religion and morality are speedily swept away. It is a significant fact, that, at the German watering-places, the gambling-rooms arc open in the afternoon and evening of the day which has been divinely set apart for sacred rest, and that the tables are then as crowded as usual. One Sunday afternoon I was at the English service in the Lutheran church. The first lesson was being read, when a man rushed into the church in breathless excitement, and, repairing to the desk, whispered something to the minister, and then, with eager haste, ran rapidly up the stone stairs which led to the steeple. Immediately the great bell began to ring violently. It was the alarm of fire in the town! The congregation was at once dismissed, and, on repairing to the opposite end of the town, we found excited crowds of people ranged in lines, passing buckets of water from the river to the scene of the fire, which had seized on a large house in the rear of one of the hotels. To catch a more distinct view of the scene, I climbed the rocks immediately behind the burning house, and there, too, I found men, women, and young girls all banded together in passing water down from a public fountain, that it might bo poured from the cliff above on the flames. The houses near to the burning building were gutted of all their furniture, which was scattered about over the street, and it wanted but the darkness of night to make the scene appalling. As it was, the " phlegmatic Germans" were thoroughly roused, and the whole town was in uproar. At length the flames were subdued; and, in returning to my lodgings, I suddenly said to myself, "This is the hour when the gambling-tables are open. Can it be possible that they are not deserted? At all events I shall go and see." I entered the open doors, and passed through the outer saal into the magnificent ball-room, and there, to my horror and disgust, I saw a crowd of gamblers pursuing with intense eagerness their wonted indulgence, and this within two hundred yards of the spot whero the fire had just been raging! That ona, incident impressed me more deeply than any other hitherto witnessed, with the fearfully absorbing and demoralizing nature of the passion for play; and I hope I shall be excused if, for the moment, I wished that it had been that gorgeous temple of vice itself, under whose roof I now stood, which had been burnt to the ground.
THE LITTLE FLOWER.
HALF the legends of wild countries refer to the exploits, good or evil, of brigands. In general, the tone of such narratives is rather favorable to the lawless than otherwise; and it is easy to understand why this should be. The ranks of Outlawry, when power is in the hands of the violent or the corrupt, are recruited from those very classes which in better times become the warmest friends of society. There is no reason why the Mokan, of whose exploits we are about to speak, should not under more favorable circumstances have become an ornament to his name and country.
The Mokans are wandering shepherds from Transylvania, who come down to the plains of Bulgaria and Wallachia, on permission, to pasture their flocks and herds. They are not necessarily of one tribe, or race, and are indeed joined by many free spirits from the surrounding unsettled countries, who see in that vagabond kind of life a means of escaping the tyranny to which all stationary citizens are liable. Michal the Mokan, as he was generally called after he became famous, was a native of Bulgaria, and was born in the environs of Sophia. Somo tyrannical Pasha, when he was very young, endeavored to seize and make a servant of him, but he escaped, and, after wandering as a beggar through Servia, at length crossed the Danube, and proceeding still northward, met a company of Mokans on their way, with herds of cattle, to the lower plains of Wallachia. He at once enlisted himself among them, and having been used to the care of cattle, soon was regarded as a valuable acquisition. In process of time he became a chief herdsman, and prosperously continued his annual voyages in search of pasture, sometimes as far as the levels of Dobritza.
He had reached the age of nearly thirty without having suffered further vicissitudes in his new state than arc commonly incident to it, when one autumn he was returning to his elected country with many companions and vast herds. By engaging in the peddlery trade across the Austrian frontier, in addition to his ordinary duties, he had now acquired comparative wealth;
and although he was attired in worn leather garments, covered with a sheepskin cloak, the wool of which looked rather dirty, any one who had seen him reclining beneath a temporary tent made of a couple of blankets, supported by two uprights and a cross stick, a little apart from the rest, near the banks of the Dimbouritza, in its lower course, would have at once guessed him to be a man of respectability. It was near the eventide. The sun was setting over the vast plain, covered partially with forest beyond the river. The land around, as far as the eye could reach, was dotted by small groups of men, driving in the cattle that had strayed toward a kind of field inclosed on two sides by the winding stream, and on the other by the straggling camps. Tents. if such they could be called, were scattered here and there. Piles of luggage formed pillows for weary men who had supped, and were smoking their pipes. Fires, fed by half-dried shrubs hastily collected, smouldered rather than blazed: at intervals sending up columns, as it were, to support the canopy that was gathering overhead The Mokan looked with pride at certain vast bulls that hustled unwicldily by, some raising up their horns as if to avoid doing damage, others going head down, and goring right and left in their hurry to avoid the goad—the kindly and the egotistical of the herd He knew that these splendid animals bore his marks; and from much association with Turks, could not repress the self-congratulatory exclamation of "Mashallah.'" The word was scarcely out of his mouth, when a sharp cry of pain or fear came across the river. He turned somewhat listlessly in that direction, and beheld upon a slip of level land on the opposite side, a number of forms moving rapidly. They were horsemen galloping; but the sound which had attracted his attention must have come from a nearer point than that at which they had arrived when he first saw them. A lad who had drawn nigh to give an account of the bulls, now directed his attention to something that was struggling in the water just in front. It was a swimmer vainly endeavoring to make head against the current. The light was down, but Michal, whe had good eyes, exclaimed. " By my saint, 'tis a child hunted by some robbers—or perhaps an escaped serf. I have been hunted, too, before now." So away went the sheepskin cloak, and a portion of the other garments, and out plunged Michal into the stream—hand-over-hand—now rising to look about him—making obliquely to the place where the current would probably cam the weak swimmer. Before long he saw a face glance upward not far from his; but it went down, and then the arm only was cast into the air. He caught the wrist of the swimming child, and raised its head above the water. "Holy Virgin!" he muttered, "'tis a girl." Though confused with her plunge, the girl had not lost her consciousness, and assented, if she heard what he said, with a wild smile. Michal was swimming powerfully back, when something struck the water sharply close by, making a sound like a pebble on a window-pane Again and again the same sound was repeated. "As I live," said Miehal to himself, " I heard that before. The villains arc shooting at us. If I make the bank, then I shall bo riddled to a certainty. Girl, are you afraid to dive? "
The girl whispered that she was not. So, just as several shots were fired at once, they both went under water, to rise many yards down the stream. As it was now nearly dark, this was quite sufficient; but to make matters sure, they dived once more, and at length came up under the shadow of a Wallachian willow that drooped from the bank. Michal caught one of the long, strong branches, and soon got ashore.
"Now," said he, sitting down, and not heeding the shouts that were passing to and fro across the lines, between the pursuing party and the Mokan herdsmen, who, in great alarm, were asking what this attack meant, "now tell me, child, the story of thy misfortunes. Hast thou done any thing wrong? I will protect thee all the same."
His heart was overflowing with tho recollection of his own escape, and he made as if he would embrace the child; but the gesture with which she repelled him and moved a little further olf on the grass—while, in sign of friendship, she still left her hand upon his arm—showed that he was mistaken as to her age.
"My name is Floriora (the Little Flower)," she replied "My father's name is Lagir. My mother is dead. I am the slave of the Lord Bibiano. He has sold me to the Pasha, and I have runaway. Is this wrong?"
It was not necessary in that country to relate any further incidents. Michal understood the story at once; it is one of the singular parts of his character, and one of the incidents of his life which made him a hero among the people, that immediately, without any fatal delays, he determined to abandon the property he had spent arduous years in amassing, in order to be enabled to save this young girl—who already owed her life to him—from misery and shame. Ho knew that if he returned with her to the camp, all his companions, however much their feelings might prompt otherwise, would insist that the fugitive slave should be returned to her owners; otherwise they were In danger, not only of the loss of their permission to graze, but of confiscation of all their property. He did not wish to involve a tribe by whose kindness alone he had grown rich, in a dangerous dispute with the authorities of the country; and the idea of giving up the Little Flower never occurred to him.
There was no time to lose. The pursuers, who had lighted torches, were going up the river to a spot where was a ferry-boat, and they would soon * be down to search for the girl, alive or dead. Be'sides, probably in obedience to orders or threats from the other side, a number of the herdsmen were coming along the great hedge of bushes and trees that lined the river at that place, calling for Michal, and telling him to bring out the slave. They knew his powers of swimming, and guessed that in the gloom the shots from the enemy could
not have taken effect. Michal rose, and taking Floriora by the hand, led her cautiously along the water's edge, round the end of the point.
"Now," said he, "the plain behind is full of people, and we can not cross it without being seen. Some of my friends would let us escape; others, more selfish, would delay us. Can you swim again, down stream, with your hand on my shoulder?"
She answered that she could, submitting herself implicitly to the faith of the stranger who had saved her, and tacitly accepting his sacrifices, perhaps because she knew she could reward them. They dipped noiselessly into the stream, and in a leisurely manner began to cross. The passage was effected without difficulty, and on emerging, they found themselves many hundred yards below the extreme limit of the camp, the position of which could only be distinguished by a mass of smoke, reflecting a dull red glow. Their difficulties were, however, not yet over; the estates of the Lord Bibiano stretched all along that part of the river, "far, far away," said Floriora, and it would be impossible to traverse them during the night. She knew, however, a village of her own people, where she might perhaps hide in safety. But Michal, who probably knew that the Zigans were not always faithful one to the other, said that he preferred hiding in the woods. They accordingly proceeded for some distance—all night long, indeed—and, as the dawn began to whiten the east, hid themselves in a thick mass of trees to pass the day.
When the sun had risen, Floriora saw with some terror that they were not far from the country villa of her lord; but Michal told her this was the place where their pursuers would be least likely to look for them. And in truth they spent the day on the edge of a little glade in the forest, without seeing any living thing, save a few birds, a squirrel on the tree, and some bright green lizards. Michal, as soon as it was light, contemplated Floriora with amazement. Her beauty seemed to increase as the morning broke more cheerily through the trees; and when the sun suddenly darted a sheaf of golden beams through a cleft in the branchy canopy, upon this maiden companion of his, he could scarcely refrain from uttering a cry of wonder. She was small indeed as a child, and delicately formed, but had evi dently attained the age when young girls, as they go down to the springs, look furtively over their shoulders to know if they are followed from afar off. Michal computed the relative value of the treasure he had lost and the treasure he had gained, and found that he was a richer man than on the previous eve. Some will wonder that he should thus at once assume a right of property over the maiden whose life he had saved; but he knew the power of gratitude by the experience of his own heart; and, besides, was there not something in the artless look of admiration which Floriora now and then cast up at his countenance, that told what form her thoughts were taking? One question he asked, to satisfy himself, in a low voic*. as he sat looking down attentively at a blade of grass that was shining in a speck of sunlight: "Has Floriora left any one behind in the Tillage whom she regrets?"
"My father," she replied with emphasis, "is grieving over my loss, and will rejoice to hear of my safety."
This was enough; and though all was doubt and uncertainty for the morrow, their happy hearts throbbed all day long in the embowered recesses of the forest.
Floriora did not remain inactive all the time; but moved here and there gathering nutritious berries, and digging up cool, fresh roots from the earth. Michal did not like the look of these at first; but she bit pieces off them, and said laughing, in allusion to "the cup of black coffee," which sends so many great men out of the world, "I will be your taster." Thus the day wore on; and, when night came, the fugitives continued their journey, taking a northerly direction. Michal had formed a plan for his future life.
On the morning of the fourth day, they reached a mountainous country, and soon entered a deep and gloomy glen with which Michal seemed well acquainted. Advancing a little in front of Floriora, he came to a cave, where, standing on one side with the girl pressed close to him, he cried: '' Lenk! Lenk! Come out and surrender."
A bullet whistled past; and a roar, as if a cannon had been fired within, rolled forth.
"Ha! Lenk," again cried Michal, looking shrewd. "If this had been the patrol, what would have been the use of firing before your eyes were open?"
"I have three more charges ready," replied a gruff voice from the interior; "and though you have caught me napping, it would be a hard matter to take me. But I think I know that voice. Is it Michal, playing his foolish jokes V
"Stand out in the light and let me see you."
"I shall make a good mark," said Michal, advancing fearlessly from his cover, while Floriora, trembling with terror, endeavored to restrain him.
Presently the voice from within expressed satisfaction, but wanted to know who the woman was.
"My wife!" said Michal, boldly; and Floriora, though trembling with surprise and pleasure, remained silent.
Presently they entered the cavem, and the newly-betrothed maiden saw indeed that the robber Lenk's boast that he could not easily be taken was well founded 'When they had advanced a few paces, and her eyes had become accustomed to the half-light, she saw a dark chasm about three paces wide, stretching across the entrance, and heard a murmur of water far below. Never was there a better moat to a castle. The opposite side of the chasm was several feet above the place where the new-comers stood; and they soon discerned a form engaged in thrusting down a kind of bridge, made of a couple of beams lashed together. Over this they passed; having turned round a huge mass of rock, they found themselves in a cave of considerable size, fitted with a table,
a bed, rude cupboards, and other comforts, and lighted by an oil lamp swinging from the roof. In every respect this dwelling-place was superior to the hut to which Floriora had been accustomed.
"It is almost as fine as my lord Bibiano's palace," said she.
Lenk, whose life Michal had saved, some years past, was a jovial host enough. He, too, had been driven to that wild mode of life by an act of tyranny; and, though he did subsist by levying tribute on the surrounding country, was in every other respect a good sort of character. The peasantry whom he always spared—partly, perhaps, because they had nothing worth taking, partly, no doubt, from prudential motives—had never a bad word to say against him; and instead of assisting the police, always gave him due warning of any movement against his liberty. This is the reason of the long impunity which the brigands of Wallachia enjoy. It is not uncommon for them to live to a green old age, and when they do close their career young, it is generally in some skirmish. They are rarely taken and tried.
Lenk soon made his guests quite at home; and showed them, as an especial mark of his confidence, a crevice in the rock, which had formerly been open, but had gradually been filled with earth, and through which he was making a back entrance to his retreat. "I know where it comes out," said he. "It is right on the top of the rock, at a place inaccessible except to birds. Then I will place a rope-ladder, by which I can swing down when I please to the glen on the other side, which I could not reach except by an hour's walk any other way. So if I am ever hard-pressed, I flit; and 'twill be a hard matter to catch me. The earth all goes down the hole you have crossed, and there is no trace of it."
Michal, on the first opportunity, employed Lenk to go and bring a priest from a village down in the plain, and his marriage with Floriora was duly celebrated at the entrance of the glen. He now began to join Lenk in his excursions; and they lived as comfortably as freebooters may. It would be a mistake to suppose that Floriora pined in this state of existence. She thought her husband's calling justifiable, and, indeed, noble; and proudly compared her own independent condition with that to which she was to have been condemned. When Michal remained many days absent, she felt keen misery, and regretted that a more quiet lot had not been vouchsafed to her. But, when she saw him from the entrance of the cave, coming back with a lamb on his shoulder, and Lenk following, driving a bullock laden with spoil, her eyes glistened, and the leaped with as much joy and exultation to the neck of her lord, as if he had been a chieftain of # many men, retuming covered with laurels, from* the wars.
In due time a son was bom to her, and her cup of happiness was full. It had been decreed that bitters should be again mixed with it. One moming Lenk was about to go forth when he descried bright objects flashing far down the glen; and his keen eye discovered that they were the weapons of soldiers. He at once suspected that his retreat had been discovered, and withdrawing the bridge, announced the fact to Michal, who was standing in smiling happiness waiting until bis little wife should succeed in unfastening the grasp by which his boy had got bold of his black beard. The two banditti made ready their arms, and waited for the near approach of the soldiery. There were about a dozen; but they halted at a respectful distance, and a man moved toward the entrance of the cave, and exhorted the inmates to surrender. A scornful laugh was the answer; but the defenders of the cave did not fire on the herald, because they saw that he was a peasant. Soon after, the soldiers began to pour volley after volley into the cave; they were answered with effect. There was very little danger for Lenk and Michal, but some of the balls rebounded into the chamber where Floriora lat. She was therefore obliged to take refuge in the crevice; and which had, by this time, been completely epened.
When the combat had continued some hours, the besiegers, who knew that their firing had produced no effect, as the guns still answered from within, drew off, and seemed to consult. The new plan they hit upon has often been adopted in that kind of warfare. Some of them climbed the face of the hill, armed with sharp axes, and began cutting away the brushwood, and throwing down the vast mass of dried wood which had been accumulating there for years. They had resolved to smoke out their enemies. Lenk now applauded himself on the idea of a back entrance; and when the bonfire was lighted, the whole party made preparations for an escape. Being perfectly confident that there was no danger, they went up the steep passage laughing, reached the summit of the rock, joked about the foolish police who were roasting themselves that scorching day at the entrance of the cave, coughed a little in the smoke which filled the air, displaced the ladder, and prepared to descend into the valley. Lenk went down first, and sat patiently at the bottom, steadying the ladder; Floriora followed; then came Michacl, with his boy strapped firmly on his back. He was only half way down when a shot was fired; Lenk fell dead; Floriora was seized by a man who rushed forward; and a volley was aimed at her unhappy husband. The missiles clattered in the rock around; but he was only slightly wounded, and the child escaped unhurt; he looked down, and saw a whole group of enemies waiting. His first impulse was to cast himself among them; for he thought that Floriora too had been murdered as well as Lenk. But the love of life was strong within him; and he had revenge within him. He saw a ledge of rock at no great distance, and by a desperate leap, in spite of his burden, gained it. The men below stood awe-struck. Another desperate leap. A shot or two was fired without effect. Another gigantic spring, and he reached a place from which he could scramble back toward the summit of the hill. In brief, he escaped, and Vol. IX.—No. 51.—Co
an hour afterward found himself safe in a distant retreat, where he sat down and wept all the remainder of the day, even until the going down of the sun, for the loss of his Floriora.
It was after this incident that Michal became known in Wallachia as tho Mokan. Under that name he committed many ruthless deeds, principally against the Boyards; because he soon learned that the attacking party which had deprived him of his happiness had been directed by the steward of tho Lord Bibiano, who, by some means not explained, had discovered that the fugitive slave was living, and had learned the secret of the double entrance. The Mokan tried to ascertain what took place after he effected his escape. He found the body of Lenk, from which the soldiers had cut the head as a trophy; but there was no trace of Floriora. Perhaps the certainty of her doom would have left him less miserable. He tortured his mind with reflections on what might have happened to her. Jealous passion sometimes nearly drove him mad. He inquired of the peasantry. Some said that she had been killed; others that she had been taken away to a prison; others that she had escaped. The last supposition the Mokan treated with contempt, because he believed that if Floriora were at liberty she would soon find her way to his side. Thus time passed, and by degrees Michal hardened and hardened, and the terror of his name filled the whole country.
Nearly ten years afterward, when his son had grown to a tall lithe boy, who looked much older than he was, Michal, at his request, took him to a fair, annually held at a village on the Transylvanian frontier, at the foot of the Krapacks. A convent of women stands at no great distance from the village, and the Mokan, disguised as a Bulgarian merchant, asked permission to sleep in the Hall of Strangers. This was readily granted, and the father and son lay down upon a mat, and reposed after the fatigues of the day. The inhabitants of the convent had all come out, curious to look at him; many had chatted with him while he ate his supper. In the dead of night a woman, a nun by her dress, bearing a lamp, cautiously entered the room, and approaching the sleepers, stood over them and gazed in wonder at their faces—in wonder and love; for, a moment afterward, his wife was on her knees embracing the rough face of the bandit, who awoke. He gazed on the pale suffering face before him; and, as he gazed, a vision of youth and beauty took its place. "Floriora, 0 my Floriora! Thou art not so changed as I am!" Then they fell into each other's arms, and wept bitterly.
She had contrived to escape from her captors; but, believing that her husband and child were killed, repaired to that convent and asked for hospitality. She had not taken the vail—the pious Wallachian story-tellers particularly insist on this point—because only unmarried and free women were received; but she had remained for ten years as a kind of lay sister, doing menial services for the others. They had even acquired a claim over her something rike that which a lord