CHAPTER XIII. BEY BAZAAR, ANGORA, AND EASTWARD.
"Oh, Sultan, may you live forever!" exclaimed the old man, "for your Imperial Highness is loved and celebrated throughout all the empire for your many virtues, but most of all for your wellknown love of justice."
"Inshallah!" replied the monarch, reverently. "May it please Your Imperial Majesty," continued the old man, calling the monarch's attention to the jar, "Your Highness' most excellent father - may his bones rest in peace! - borrowed from my father this jar full of gold coins, the conditions being that Your Majesty was to pay the same amount back to me." "Absurd, impossible!" exclaimed the astonished Sultan, eying the huge vessel in question.
"If the story be true," gravely continued the pilgrim, "pay your father's debt; if it is as you say, impossible, I have fairly won the golden ball." And the Sultan immediately awarded him the prize.
In the cool of the evening we ride out on horseback through vineyards and yellow-berry gardens to Mr. Binns' country residence, a place that formerly belonged to an old pasha, a veritable Bluebeard, who built the house and placed the windows of his harem, even closely latticed as they always are, in a position that would not command so much as a glimpse of passers-by on the road, hundreds of yards away. He planted trees and gardens, and erected marble fountains at great cost. Surrounding the whole with a wall, and purchasing three beautiful young wives, the old Turk fondly fancied he had created for himself an earthly paradise; but as love laughs at locksmiths, so did these three frisky damea laugh at latticed windows, and lay their heads together against being prevented from watching passers-by through the windows of the harem. With nothing else to do, they would scheme and plot all day long against their misguided husband's tranquillity and peace of mind. One day, while sunning himself in the garden, he discovered that they had managed to detach a section of the lattice-work from a window, and were in the habit of sticking out their heads - awful discovery. Flying into a righteous rage at this act of flagrant disobedience, he seized a thick stick and sought their apartments, only to find the lattice-work skilfully replaced, and to be confronted with a general denial of what he had witnessed with his own eyes. This did not prevent them from all three getting a severe chastisement; but as time wore on he found the life these three caged-up young women managed to lead him anything but the earthly paradise he thought he was creating, and, financial troubles overtaking him at the same time, the old fellow fairly died of a broken heart in less than twelve months after he had so hopefully installed himself in his self-created heaven.
There is a moral in the story somewhere, I think, for anybody caring to analyze it. Mr. Binns says the old Mussulman was also an inveterate hater of unbelievers, and that the old fellow's bones would fairly rattle in his coffin were he conscious that a family of Christians are now actually occupying the house he built with such careful regard for the Mussulman's ideas of a material heaven, with trees and fountains and black-eyed houris.
Near ten o'clock on Tuesday morning finds Angora the scene of more excitement than it has seen for some time. I am trundling through the narrow streets toward the appointed starting-place, which is at the commencement of a half-mile stretch of excellent level macadam, just beyond the tombstone-planted suburbs of the city. Mr. Binns is with me, and a squad of zaptiehs are engaged in the lively occupation of protecting us from the crush of people following us out; they are armed especially for the occasion with long switches, with which they unsparingly lay about them, seemingly only too delighted at the chance of making the dust fly from the shoulders of such unfortunate wights as the pressure of the throng forces anywhere near the magic cause of the commotion. The time and place of starting have been proclaimed by the Vali and have become generally noised abroad, and near three thousand people are already assembled when we arrive; among them is seen the genial face of Suleiman Effendi, who, in his capacity of mayor, is early on the ground with a force of zaptiehs to maintain order; and with a little knot of friends, behold, is also our humble friend the Armenian pastor, the irresistible attractions of the wicked bicycle having temporarily overcome his contempt of the pomps and vanities of secular displays.
"Englishmen are always punctual!" says Suleiman Effendi, looking at his watch; and, upon consulting our own, sure enough we have happened to arrive precisely to the minute. An individual named Mustapha, a blacksmith who has acquired an enviable reputation for skill on account of the beautiful horseshoes he turns out, now presents himself and begs leave to examine the mechanism of the bicycle, and the question arises among the officers standing by as to whether Mustapha would be able to make one; Mustapha himself thinks he could, providing he had mine always at hand to copy from.
"Yes," suggests the practical-minded Suleiman Effendi, "yes, Mustapha, you may have mariftt enough to make one; but when you have finished it, who among all of us will have marifet enough to ride it?"
"True, effendi," solemnly assents another, "we would have to send for an Englishman to ride it for us, after Mustapha had turned it out. "