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Title: A Child of the Orient
Author: Vaka, Demetra
Language: English
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A CHILD OF THE ORIENT



_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

  SOME PAGES FROM THE LIVES OF TURKISH WOMEN

  IN THE SHADOW OF ISLAM

  ETC.



A CHILD OF THE ORIENT

  BY DEMETRA VAKA

  LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD
  NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY
  TORONTO: BELL AND COCKBURN. MCMXIV



_Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh_



  To

  TRUMBULL WHITE

  EDITOR AND FRIEND, WHOSE APPRECIATION
  AND ENCOURAGEMENT
  HELPED TO SMOOTH THE HARD ROAD
  OF A BEGINNER



CONTENTS

   CHAP.                                        PAGE

      I. THE TOKEN                                 3

     II. ECHOES OF 1821                            8

    III. OTHER FACES, OTHER PHASES                15

     IV. DJIMLAH                                  24

      V. WE AND THEY                              30

     VI. AUNT KALLIROË                            36

    VII. IN THE HOLLOW OF ALLAH’S HAND            46

   VIII. YILDERIM                                 60

     IX. I AM REMINDED OF MY SONS AGAIN           73

      X. THE GARDEN GODDESS                       85

     XI. MISDEEDS                                110

    XII. HOW I WAS SOLD TO ST GEORGE             118

   XIII. THE MASTER OF THE FOREST                133

    XIV. ALI BABA, MY CAÏQUE-TCHI                157

     XV. MY LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN                 166

    XVI. CHAKENDÉ, THE SCORNED                   193

   XVII. A GREAT LADY OF STAMBOUL                212

  XVIII. THE INVENTIVENESS OF SEMMEYA HANOUM     221

    XIX. THE CHIVALRY OF ARIF BEY                233

     XX. IN THE WAKE OF COLUMBUS                 251

    XXI. IN REAL AMERICA                         266

   XXII. BACK TO TURKEY                          282



A CHILD OF THE ORIENT

CHAPTER I

THE TOKEN


On the morning of my fifth birthday, just as I awoke from sleep, my
grand-uncle came into my room, and, standing over my bed, said with a
seriousness little befitting my age:

“To-day, _despoinis_, you are five years old. I wish you many
happy returns of the day.”

He drew up a chair, and sat down by my bed. Carefully unfolding a piece
of paper, he brought forth a small Greek flag.

“Do you know what this is?”

I nodded.

“Do you know what it stands for?”

Before I could think of an adequate reply, he leaned toward me and said
earnestly, his fiery black eyes holding mine:

“It stands for the highest civilization the world has ever known. It
stands for Greece, who has taught the world. Take it and make your
prayers by it.”

I accepted it, and caressed it. Its silky texture pleased my touch.
Its heavenly blue colour fascinated my eyes, while the white cross,
emblem of my religion as well as of my country, filled my childish
heart with a noble thrill.

My grand-uncle bent over nearer to me.

“In your veins flows the blood of a wonderful race; yet you live, as I
have lived, under an alien yoke--a yoke Asiatic and uncivilized. The
people who rule here to-day in the place of your people are barbarous
and cruel, and worship a false god. Remember all this--and hate them!
You cannot carry this flag, because you are a girl; but you can bring
up your sons to do the work that remains for the Greeks to do.”

He left his chair, and paced up and down the room; then came again and
stood beside my bed.

“Sixty-one years ago we rose. For nine consecutive years we fought, and
to-day two million Greeks are free--and Athens, with its Acropolis, is
protected by this flag. But the greater part of the Greek land is still
under the Mussulman yoke, and St Sophia is profaned by the Mohammedan
creed. Grow up remembering that all that once was Greece must again
belong to Greece; for the Greek civilization cannot and must not die.”

He went away, leaving me with thoughts too vast for a child of five
years, too big for a child who was not even strong. Yet even at that
age I knew a great deal about the past of Greece, and better yet did I
know of the fight of those nine years, which had made the little flag
I was caressing again a flag among free nations. I folded and unfolded
the miniature flag, which my sons must some day carry forward.

It was the last day of February. Outside a storm was raging. I could
hear the angry Sea of Marmora beating violently against the coast, as
if it would fain annihilate with its liquid force the solidness of the
earth. And the rain, imitating the sea, was beating mightily against
the window-panes, while the wind was forcing the tall, stalwart pines,
to bend humbly to the earth. Half of the elements were doing violence
to the other half--as if they were Greeks destroying the Turks, or
Turks oppressing the Greeks.

It was a gloomy birthday, yet an exaltation possessed me. I kept on
stroking the little flag. I loved it, and with all the fervour of my
five years I vowed to do my duty by it.

The door opened softly, and Kiamelé, my little Turkish attendant, came
in. Quickly I tucked away the tiny flag.

“Good morning, Rose Petal.” She kneeled by my bed, and, putting her
arms around me, smothered me with kisses. “So we are five years old
to-day--pretty old, I declare! We shall be looking for a husband very
soon. And now show me what the grand-uncle gave you.”

Her face was droll and piquant. Her eyes possessed infinite capacity
for expression. That I loved her better than anyone else at the time
was undeniable. And only a few minutes ago I had been told to hate her
race.

I entwined my fingers with hers. “Do you love me, Kiamelé?” I asked.

“After Allah, I love none better.”

“I wish you did love me better than Allah,” I said, “for then I could
make you a Christian.”

She shook her head drolly; “No, no, I like Allah.”

“But then,” I protested, “if you like Allah, you must hate me.”

“Hate you! You, whom I love better than my heart!”

“You’ve got to; for I am a Greek, and you are a Turk.”

She folded me in her arms. “What a funny baby--and this on your
birthday! Now don’t talk foolishness. Show me your presents.”

From under my pillow, where I had tucked it, I produced the little flag.

She gazed at it, her head cocked on one side.

“What’s this?”

“This,” I said with emphasis, “is the flag of my country--and my
birthday present.”

“What a funny present,” she murmured. “And is this all the grand old
gentleman gave you?”

I was disappointed at her reception of it, and to save my little flag
from feeling the mortification I hugged it and kissed it. I wanted very
much to explain to Kiamelé all that it stood for, and how my sons some
day must carry it forward; but how could I, since to show my allegiance
to that flag I must hate her, my bestest of friends? So I said nothing,
and on that, my fifth birthday, I began to see that battles did not
only exist between people, storms did not only rage among the elements
of nature, but that heart and mind could be at such variance as to
cause conflicts similar to those taking place outside my window.



CHAPTER II

ECHOES OF 1821


Owing to certain circumstances, I was not living with my immediate
family, but was under the care of my father’s uncle. He and I lived
on one of those islands that rise high above the Sea of Marmora; and
our near horizon was the Asiatic coast of Turkey, which stretched
itself in the blue waters like a beautiful odalisk. We lived in an old
huge house, which belonged to him, and was far away from any other
habitation. The sea was in front, the mountains behind, and thick
woodland on the other two sides.

From the time I could remember my uncle conversed with me as if I were
grown-up, yet I felt that he held me in contempt because I was a girl
and could not carry arms. Life contained nothing for him beyond the
hope of waging warfare against the Turks.

He had been only a lad in 1821 when the Greeks had risen in desperation
to throw off the Mussulman yoke. Enlisting among the first, he had
fought during the entire nine years. Subsequently he fought in every
one of the uprisings of Crete. When not fighting, he was back in
Turkey, in his home, where he thought, studied, and sometimes wrote
inflammatory articles for the Greek reviews.

At times he had tremendous physical suffering, mementoes of his many
battles. On those days I did not see him. He possessed that noble and
rare quality of being ashamed of his bodily ailments. But after my
fifth birthday I was present on many days when mental anguish possessed
him. On such days he would stride up and down his vast gloomy rooms,
talking of the Greek race and of the yoke under which so large a part
of it was living.

He would stand by the window and tell me about Crete, pointing, as if
the island were visible from where he stood--and I believe that in
spite of the distance, he actually saw it, for it was ever present in
his mind, and he knew every corner of it.

“There it lies,” he would say, “lapped by the waves of the
Mediterranean; but were the mighty sea to pass over it, it could not
wash away the noble Cretan blood which drenches it. It is soaked with
it, and it will be blood-soaked until the Mussulman yoke has been
wrenched from it--or till there is no more Cretan blood to shed.”

Or he would cry out: “Don’t you hear the shrieks of the Cretan women
as they leap into the foaming sea, holding fast to their hearts
their little ones? Yes! they would rather meet their death in the
merciless but clean sea, than fall, living, into the hands of the vile
Turkish soldiery. Oh! my God--my Christian God--how can you permit it?”

He would bow his head on his arms and remain motionless, until the
feeling which was choking him had passed. Then, in a subdued tone, he
would resume:

“Crete! Crete! brave, indomitable Crete--always victorious, yet always
handed back to the Turks by Christian Europe. My beautiful Crete, when
shalt thou be free?”

It was on such days that he exhorted me to remember the little Greek
flag he had given me, and all that it stood for. On other days, when he
was calmer, he took me systematically with him through the entire nine
years of the Greek revolution, and by him I was carried through all its
glorious battles.

He had fought first under the leadership of Marco Bozaris, and he
entertained for this heroic chief an admiration amounting to worship.

“We were only a handful, mostly lads, at first,” he would say, with a
happy smile on his saddened face. “Yes, we were mostly lads, and Marco
himself a little over thirty. But how we did obey him, and how we did
fight!”

Here he would lose himself in memory for a while.

“I can see Marco now, seated cross-legged on the ground, a crude map of
his own make before him, we bending over him. ‘Here, boys,’ he would
say, pointing to the map, ‘here is where we fight the Turks to-morrow,
and by night time we shall carry our holy flag farther along. We do--or
we die!’ Then the handful of us would kneel and kiss the flag, and
swear by to-morrow to carry it farther along--or to die. And we always
carried it farther along.”

He described Marco Bozaris so vividly to me, that when one day he
showed me a picture which he had smuggled into Turkey for my benefit, I
instantly cried: “Why that is the great Bozaris--your Marco!”

I believe that I never pleased him more in my life than by this. He
actually kissed me.

Next to Bozaris, the man he admired and talked of most was the intrepid
mariner, Constantin Kanaris.

“The Turkish fleet was blazing with lights,” he told me, “for the
Kabitan Pasha was celebrating. One of the warships was filled with
Greek maidens, ranging from twelve to eighteen years. They had been
carried off that day without distinction of class or name. The
daughters of the great Greek chieftains and of the commonest sailors
had been herded together, and brought on this battleship to be made the
victims of the night.

“Word of this had come to us. We sat gloomily around a rude wooden
table, saying not a word. Then Constantin Kanaris spoke, his voice
hoarse, his face terrible to look at:

“‘Take them away we cannot--unless God sends us ships from heaven at
this minute. But if we cannot take them away, we can at least send them
to God, pure as he has given them to us.’

“We listened breathless, while he unfolded to us his daring plan. He
would go out in a small row-boat to the battle-ship alone. ‘Never fear!
I may not come back--but the battle-ship will be blown up.’

“He left us--so dumb with despair that for a long, long time none of us
spoke. Hours passed since he had gone; then a far distant boom made the
still air to tremble, and we, rushing to the shore, saw the sky bathed
in burning colours.

“We lads were for shouting for joy, but at the sight of the older men,
whose heads hung low on their breasts, we remembered that none yet knew
whose were the daughters just sent to God. Each father there, maybe,
had a child to mourn.”

My uncle’s friendship lasted as long as Kanaris lived, and at times he
went to see him in Greece. Once he reproached me bitterly for having
been born a few years too late to be taken to the home of Kanaris, to
behold the great chieftain and to be blessed by him.

After the untimely death of Marco Bozaris at Karpenissi, my grand-uncle
fought under other great leaders, until in turn, in the last three
years of the revolution, he himself became a leader.

Of his own exploits he never spoke. He entrusted this task to
posterity. It was of this and that other leader he loved to speak, and
as his narrative progressed all the names which have immortalized the
modern history of Greece passed before me--passed before me not as
names from a book, but as men of flesh and blood, in their everyday
aspects as well as in their heroic moments.

And I, seated on my little stool, with the big book I had brought him
to read me still unopened on my lap, would listen enthralled, wishing
that I might have lived when my uncle had, and might with him have
kneeled in front of Marco Bozaris, to kiss the Greek flag, and to swear
that I would do or die.

One day when he was more violent than usual against the Turks--when
he almost wept at the thought of living under the Turkish yoke--an
inspiration came to me.

“Uncle!” I cried, “why do we live here? Why don’t we go to live where
the Greek flag flies?”

Abruptly he stopped in his walk before me, his tall, thin figure erect,
his eyes aflame.

“Go away from here?” he cried. “Go away from here, and be a traitor?
Yes, that is what so many thousands did in 1453. They abandoned their
hearths and the graves of their ancestors. They abandoned their lands
and their schools, and above all they abandoned St Sophia. To go away
from here is to forsake our country--for ever to relinquish it to the
conqueror. We must stay _here_!” he thundered, “and bear with our
_patrida_ the yoke of slavery, till the day shall come, when again
strong, we shall rise to break that yoke, and hear again a Christian
priest in St Sophia!”

I was seven years old when he died; yet I felt almost as old as he.
Having never seen other children, and therefore having never shared in
childish frolics, my world consisted of the woes of Greece.

His death was a terrible shock to me, and yet I cannot say that I quite
understood what death meant. For days and days I pondered as to where
he was, and whether he were comfortable or not. I saw his body, wrapped
in a huge Greek flag, the icon of his patron saint clasped in his cold
hands, lowered to rest beside the men of his family, who, like him, had
lived and died under the Turkish yoke.



CHAPTER III

OTHER FACES, OTHER PHASES


My uncle was now gone--gone, let us hope, to where he was to find rest
from racial hatred, rest from national ambition.

Gone though he was, his influence over my life was never to go
entirely--in spite of radical modifications. He had enriched my
childhood with things beyond my age, yet things which I would not give
up for the most normal and sweetest of childhoods. He had taught me the
Greek Revolution as no book could ever have done; and he had given me
an idea of the big things expected of men. He had given me a worship
for my race amounting to superstition, and bequeathed to me a hatred
for the Turks which would have warped my intelligence, had I not been
blessed almost from my infancy with a power of observing for myself,
and also had not good fortune given me little Turkish Kiamelé as a
constant companion.

In the abstract, the Turks, from the deeds they had done, had taken
their place in my mind as the cruellest of races; yet in the concrete
that race was represented by dark-eyed, pretty little Kiamelé, the
sweetest and brightest memory of an otherwise bleak infancy.

Alongside the deeds of the Greeks, and the bloodshed of the Greek
Revolution, I had from her “The Arabian Nights.” She told them to me
in her picturesque, dramatic way, becoming a horse when a horse had to
come into the tale, and any other animal when that animal appeared; and
she imitated them with so great an ingenuity that she suggested the
very presence of the animal, with little tax on my imagination. She
talked with a thick voice, when a fat man spoke, and a terribly funny
piping voice when a thin one spoke. She draped herself exquisitely with
her veil, when a princess came into the tale; and her face assumed
the queerest look when the _ev-sahibs_, or supernatural sprites,
appeared. Had it not been for her and her “Arabian Nights,” I should
never have laughed, or known there was a funny side to life; for I had
little enough occasion for laughter with my uncle. Even to this day,
when I am amused, I laugh in the oriental way of my little Kiamelé.

After the death of my uncle, the course of my life was changed. I made
the acquaintance of my own family, who now came to live on the island,
in the same old house where he and I had lived. It took me a long time
to adjust myself to the new life, so different from the old, and
especially to meet children, and to try to talk with them. I had known
that other children existed, but I thought that each one was brought up
alone on an island with a grand-uncle, who taught it the history of its
race.

My father and I quickly became friends, and I soon began to talk
with him in the grown-up way I had talked with my uncle, much to his
amusement, I could see.

One day when I was sitting in his lap, with my arms encircling his
neck, I said to him:

“Father, do you feel the Turkish yoke?”

He gave a start. “What are you talking about, child?”

It was then I told him what I knew of our past, and of our obligations
toward the future; how some day we must rise and throw off that yoke,
and hear the holy liturgy again chanted in St Sophia.

He listened, interested, yet a flush of anger overspread his face. He
patted me, and murmured to himself: “And we thought she would grow
stronger living in the country.”

He bent down and kissed me. “I would not bother much, just now, about
these things,” he said. “I’d play and grow strong.”

“But, father,” I protested, “uncle told me never to forget those
things--not even for a day; to remember them constantly, and to bring
up my sons to carry forward the flag.”

“You see,” my father replied, very seriously, “you are not eight yet,
and I do not believe in early marriages; so you have twelve years
before you are married and thirteen before you have a son. During those
years there are a lot of nice and funny things to think about--and,
above all, you must grow strong physically.”

I must say I was quite disappointed at the way he took things. I was
quite miserable about it, and might have become morbid--for I liked
to cling to the big dreams of the future--had it not been for my
half-brother. He was fourteen years older than I, and he, too, like
my uncle lived in the past. His past, however, went beyond my uncle’s
past; and from him I was to learn, not of the woes of Greece, but of
the glory of Greece, of her golden age, and of the time when she, Queen
of the World, was first in civilization.

My horizon was gilded also by the Greek mythology--that wonderful Greek
mythology, which to my brother was living, not dead. He spoke one day
in such a way of Olympus that I exclaimed:

“You talk as if Olympus really existed, and were not only mythology.”

“Of course, it exists,” he replied. “I used to live there myself, until
they punished me by sending me down here. I cannot tell you all the
particulars, because, when Zeus is about to exile one, one is given a
potion which puts him to sleep, and while asleep he is carried beyond
the limits of the Olympian realm, and is left outside to live the life
of a man. But though he forgets a great deal--as, for example, how to
find his way back--he is left with the memory of his former existence.
That is his punishment. After his death, however, he is forgiven and
returns to Olympus again.”

I stared at my brother, but his calm assurance, and the faith I had in
him, made me implicitly believe him--and to-day I think he really more
than half believed it himself.

After this I was not surprised to have him tell me that the gods of
Greece were not dead, but forced to retire on the mountains of Olympus,
because Christianity had to come first. “You see, little one, you will
presently learn the Old Testament, as you are now being taught the
New--and as I am teaching you Mythology. You will find out, as you grow
older, that you need all three to balance things up.”

From him I heard not only the names of the great Greek writers, but
he read to me by the hour from them. At first they were very hard to
understand, since the Greek we speak is so much simpler than the Greek
of Aristophanes and Sophocles; but since, after all, it is the same
language, I learned to recite it pretty well before even I knew how to
read and write.

It was from my brother, too, that I learned to know the Greek
Revolution as our great modern poets sang of it; and before the year
was over I could recite the “Chani of Gravia” and other celebrated
poems, as American children recite “Mother Goose.”

One day there came into our garden, where my brother and I sat, a
handsome young man, saying: “They told me you were in the garden, so I
came to find you.” He sat down by us and plunged into a conversation
about a certain game they were getting up, and of which my brother was
the captain. We escorted him to the gate, when he left us, and after he
was out of ear-shot I asked my brother who he was, as he had forgotten
to introduce us.

“It is Arif Bey,” he replied rather curtly.

“You don’t mean a real Turk?” I cried.

“Why, yes.”

“But you seemed so friendly with him!”

“Why not? I like him first rate.”

“How can you be friends with a Turk?”

“He’s an awfully good fellow.”

“But ought we to like them, and treat them as if they were our equals?”

“Well, what can we do, sister? They are the masters here, and we belong
to the Turkish officialdom. We have got to be friendly with them.”

“But we ought to hate them just the same, since we must kill them.
Wouldn’t you kill him, if you could?”

“I don’t think I hate Arif Bey--and as for killing him, I hope I shall
never have to.”

“But if we are not to kill them, how are we going to be free again, and
how can the Greek flag fly over the Galata Tower?”

“Look here, baby, what you need is to play more and not think so much.
Now come, and I’ll teach you to climb trees, and for every tree you
climb yourself I’ll tell you a tale about the time when I lived on
Mount Olympus.”

I was agile by nature, in spite of being frail, and in no time I
learned to climb even the tallest trees on our place, an occupation
which delighted me as much as anything I had ever done.

Arif Bey I saw again and again, for I became the constant companion of
either my father or my brother, and I could not find it in my heart
to hate him. A few years older than my brother, he was taller and his
shoulders were broader, and he carried himself with a dash worthy of
the old demi-gods of Greece. As for his eyes they were as kind and good
to look into as those of my brother. What is more I was never afraid in
his presence, and one day he spoke so tenderly of his sick mother that
I pretty much changed my mind about the delight of seeing him killed.
It was then that I talked very eulogistically about him to my brother;
but one never can tell what grown-ups will do--they are the most
inconsistent of human beings.

“Look here, baby”--he interrupted my praises of Arif Bey--“Arif is
handsome and a nice chap, and I can trust him up to a certain point;
but don’t get to thinking he is as good as we are. A Turk never is.
They have enough Greek blood in them to look decent, but they have
enough Turkish left to be Asiatics, and don’t forget that. An Asiatic
is something inferior at best. Look at Arif Bey himself, for example.
He is about the best of them, and yet, barely twenty-seven, he has two
wives already. There is Asia for you!”

I was quite perplexed in regard to the proper attitude of mind toward
the Turks. The only girl I knew was Kiamelé--and I adored her. The
only man was Arif Bey--and he got so mixed up in my mind with the
demi-gods that I did not even mind his two wives. My uncle had been
dead for almost a year, and I had no one to incite me against them.
The old Greek writers and the beautiful mythology was beginning to
make me tolerant toward everybody. I began to lose the feeling of the
yoke, since Greece had once been the greatest of great countries.
When one has a past achievement to be proud of, one bears a temporary
humiliation better--and there was so much in the Greek past that the
weight of the yoke lifted perceptibly from my neck. It is true I kept
the little flag nailed under the iconostasis, before which I said my
prayers every night, and when I felt that I was not quite as loyal to
it as I ought to be, I used to pray to the Christian gods to help me
to remember it. I say “gods,” because to my mind God and Christ, and
St Nicholas, and St George, and the rest of the saints were much the
same sort of a group as the old Greek gods, now in seclusion on Mount
Olympus.



CHAPTER IV

DJIMLAH


On the day of Beiram my father was about to set out for a call on a
Turkish pasha.

“Take me with you, father,” I begged, thinking of the pleasure of being
with him more than of going into a Turkish home. He acceded to my
request, actuated by the same motive as mine.

The old pasha was receiving his guests in his superb garden, and I,
after eating all the sweets my father would permit me to, and becoming
tired of their talk, which happened not to interest me, slipped away. I
wandered about in the garden, and presently came across a little girl,
older than myself, yet not so old as to form a barrier between us. It
is true that we came very near fighting, at first, over the bravery of
our respective races, but we ended, thanks to the courtesy of my little
hostess, by becoming friends.

Taking my hand in hers we ran all the way to where the pasha and
my father were seated. She interrupted their conversation without
ceremony, and perching herself on her grandfather’s knees, she
demanded that he should borrow me for her from my father.

I stood listening, confident that my father would never, never consent
to such a terrible thing. When my father consented--reluctantly it is
true; yet he did consent--cold shivers ran up and down my back, and
my eyelids fell heavily over my eyes. I felt abandoned--abandoned by
the one human being for whom I entertained the greatest confidence.
Sheer will-power kept me from throwing myself on my father’s knees
and imploring him to save me from the Turks. Had I not been bragging
to the little girl but a few minutes before that I was a Greek, and
consequently an extremely brave person, I am sure I should have broken
into sobs. As it was, I let myself be led away by the little girl
without even kissing my father good-bye; for that would have broken
down my self-control. That, I felt, was more than even Greek blood
could do. I resigned myself to my dreadful fate, but my legs felt like
ripe cucumbers.

Little Djimlah enveloped me in a long caress. “You are my very own
baby,” she said. “I never had one before, and I shall love you vastly,
and give you all I have.”

Holding my hand in hers she began to run as fast as she could, pulling
me along down the long avenue of trees, leading to the house. At the
door she did not knock. It opened as by magic of its own accord.

My first glimpse of the interior corresponded exactly with the pictures
of my imagination; for in 1885 Turkish homes still preserved all their
oriental customs. The hall was large, dark, and gloomy; and the eunuch,
who had opened the door by pulling his rope, added to its terrors. And
since that was a great festival day, and many ladies were calling, the
hall was lined with these sinister black men, the whites of whose eyes
glistened in the darkness.

Still hand in hand, Djimlah and I mounted a flight of dark, carpetless
stairs and came to a landing screened by very much the same kind of a
curtain as those that hang outside the doors of the Catholic churches
on the Continent.

“Open!” Djimlah cried, and silently two eunuchs drew aside the
curtains, and we passed to another flight of bare stairs, now full of
light and sunshine. With the sun a peal of laughter greeted us, and
when we reached the upper hall I felt a trifle less afraid.

Scrambling about on rugs were what seemed to me at first to be a
thousand young women, very much like my Kiamelé, dressed in as many
colours as there were heads, barefooted and barearmed. They were having
the greatest frolics, and laughing like a pack of children.

“Hullo, there!” cried Djimlah.

They stopped their romping, some of them rising up on their knees to
see us the better.

“Why, Djimlah Hanoum, what have you there?”

Djimlah surveyed me with eyes full of that humour which is so strong a
characteristic of the Turkish people, and replied seriously: “It looks
to me like a Christian child.”

“And where did you find it?” they cried.

“I borrowed it from the effendi, her father, who is out in the garden
talking to grandfather. She will be here a long, long time, as my own
baby.”

“Really?” They became quite excited about this.

“Yes. And she can understand us, and talk the way we do,” Djimlah
announced proudly, as if she had imparted to me a knowledge of her
language in the short time she had been holding my hand.

“_Os-geldi! os-geldi!_” then they cried to me in welcome.

“Now let’s go to grandmother,” said Djimlah.

This bevy of women were the slaves of the house and the slaves of the
ladies who were with the great lady within. We passed through several
rooms, filled with the outdoor garments of the visiting ladies, and
then came into the _divan-khané_, or principal reception room,
where the hostess was entertaining her guests.

Djimlah, placing both her little hands on the floor, salaamed, and
then walked up to her grandmother, who, magnificently attired in her
orientalism, sat cross-legged on a hard sofa, which ran around three
sides of the room.

“Here, grandmother, here is a Christian child. The effendi, her father,
is out with grandfather, and he has lent her to me.”

I stood still, quite uncertain what was the proper thing for me to do.
I had never before come so near to a Turkish lady; and this one, with
her deeply dyed finger-nails, and her indoor veils, and her hundreds
of diamonds, distracted all my previous education in decorum. I merely
stared.

“Welcome, little _hanoum_,” she said, after she, too, had stared
at me. “We shall do our best to make your stay among us seem like a
happy minute.”

I picked up my little skirts and made her a European curtsy. She was
childishly delighted with it, and I was made to repeat it before every
lady in the room, who sat in her magnificence, cross-legged on the
divan.

There were many, and by the time I finished my curtsies, and told my
name and my age, and how I had learned Turkish, and where I lived, I
felt quite at home, and when the old lady made us sit by her, and gave
us such quantities of candy as I had never been permitted to eat in an
entire year, I did not think once of the little flag that my sons were
to carry.

They talked before us as if we were not there, and told a lot of funny
stories at which we were permitted to join in the laugh.

The audience over, the ladies rose and salaamed. Djimlah and I rose,
too, and as Djimlah now kissed the hems of the ladies’ dresses, so did
I; and I was pleased to do so, for the ladies were reeking with strong
perfumes, a thing I had been taught to consider ill-bred, but which I
secretly thought lovely. We escorted the guests out to the ante-rooms,
where their attendants wrapped them in their black wraps and heavy
white gauze head-gear, and there we bade them good-bye.

Some of them took me in their arms and kissed me, and their perfume
stayed with me even in bed that night.



CHAPTER V

WE AND THEY


It was a patriarchal home, this first harem into which I entered. It
consisted of the old _hanoum_, who was the first wife, and head
of the women’s part of the household, six other wives, whom she called
her sisters, several married daughters, the wives of some of the sons,
and two married grand-daughters. Among them they were the mothers of
numerous babies--indeed, there were babies all over the house; and
since each lady had several slaves there must have been at least a
hundred women and children.

Djimlah happened to be the only child of her age. They were all sorry
for her, and said so constantly while doing their best to amuse her.

There was little furniture in the house, just rugs and hard sofas, and
small tables upon which were always sorbets or sweets, and cushions of
all colours piled up on the rugs, where babies or grown-ups were always
lying slumbering. Various small musical instruments were also among the
cushions, and at any time some person would pick one of these up to
play and sing, so that most of the time, on the floor, there were both
people slumbering, and people playing and singing. And since the long,
curtainless windows were latticed, and the upper part entirely hidden
by creeping vines growing from pots, the whole place seemed to me like
a play-box, transformed into a fairy house, from which discipline, like
a wicked fairy, was banished.

All the cooking was done in the men’s part of the house, and brought in
by eunuchs. At mealtimes we sat around small, low tables, on cushions,
and ate most of the things with our fingers, except rice and soup,
which we ate with pretty wooden spoons.

The amount they permitted me to eat was incredible. Even to this day I
wonder what prevented me from becoming ill.

Djimlah and I practically owned the house. We slid on the banisters;
we climbed on the backs of the slaves, who, at any time, were ready
to play horse with us; and we ate candy whenever and in whatever
quantities we pleased.

No one said “No” to us, whatever we did, and the old _hanoum_
let us ruffle her beautiful clothes and disturb her even when she was
asleep. We slept on a little bed, made up at the foot of hers, in her
own room, and it was she who said our prayer, which we repeated, and
then kissed us good-night.

The day had passed so rapidly, and had been so crowded with events and
candy that I had had no time to think. Once in bed, after Djimlah put
her arms around me and kissed me and then sweetly fell asleep, I had
plenty of time to review the day. It seemed preposterous that I, my
uncle’s grand-niece, should be here in a Turkish household, and in the
same bed with a Turkish little girl--a little girl I liked and should
hate to kill. Yet my uncle’s teachings were strongly with me and his
dark, fiery eyes seemed to pierce my heart. I tried to focus my mind
on the bad side of this household. There was the fact of the several
wives, and if it was bad for Arif Bey to have two wives, it must be
terribly bad to have seven, as had Djimlah’s grandfather, who did not
even have the excuse, to my thinking, of being young, handsome and
Olympian. On the other hand, the old _hanoum_ liked those other
wives, and called them Sister, and Djimlah spoke of them lovingly.
Impelled by my uncle’s eyes I tried to dislike the Turks. I felt
disloyal to him, whom I could feel very close that night; but when I
fell asleep at last, my rest was not troubled, and on awakening again
Djimlah was leaning over me, cooing and laughing, and I began to laugh
too.

The tears, which I had had the courage not to shed when my father said
that I might stay with Djimlah, flowed copiously when the time came to
leave her. I cried hard and loud, and so did Djimlah and because we
two cried some of the slaves joined in, and then the old _hanoum_
said:

“Now, young _hanoum_, that you have come once, you will like to
come again, and prove to us that we have made your stay happy.”

“I’m ready to come this minute,” I sobbed. At this she laughed, and we
began to laugh, too; and thus I bade them good-bye.

The first words I said on reaching my own home were that the Turks were
the nicest people in the world. My father was amused, but my mother was
horrified, and had she had her way I believe my first would have been
my only visit. As it was, eight days later I was again with Djimlah;
and thus it came about that from that early age I became a constant
visitor not only to Djimlah’s home, but also to that of other little
girls whom I met through her, and otherwise.

As I grew older, the vast contrast between my race and theirs became
more and more clear to me; and I had the distinct feeling of partaking
of two worlds, mine and theirs.

In my home there were duties for me from my babyhood, duties which had
rigidly to be performed; and things to be learned, remembered, and to
be guided by. The words duty and obligation played a great rôle in
my Greek home, and these two words, so stern, so irreconcilable with
pleasure, were absent from the Turkish homes.

For me there was a tremendous Greek history to be learned and
understood; and the more one studied it, the more one had to suffer
because of the present; for in my home we lived with the past, we
talked of the past, and of the obligations which the past imposed upon
our present and future.

In the Turkish homes there was no history to be learned. All they
seemed to know was that they were a great conquering race, that they
had come from Asia and had conquered all Europe, because they were
brave and the Europeans were cowards. There was no past or future in
their lives. Everything was ephemeral, resting on the pleasure of the
day, or better yet, on the pleasure of the moment; unconscious of the
morrow, and indifferent to the moment after the present.

In entering a Turkish home, especially as I grew older, I felt as if I
were leaving my own life outside. They were different from us, these
women, these children of the Turks. They were so different, indeed,
that I rarely spoke to them of the things I felt or thought about at
home. I came to them ready to enjoy them, and to enjoy life with them;
and yet, as the years went by, deep down in my heart I felt glad to
be a Greek child, even though I belonged to the conquered race; and
I began to return to my home with greater satisfaction than I had
at first, and to put into my studies a fervour and a willingness
which might have been less, had I not been a visitor to these Turkish
households.

Yet curiously, too, as I grew older, I liked the Turks more and more,
though in my liking there was a certain amount of protective feeling,
such as one might feel for wayward children, rather than for equals.

I learned to see what was noble, charming, and poetical in their lives;
but I also became conscious that in spite of the faults of my race, in
spite of the limitations of our religion, our civilization was better
than theirs, because it contained such words as discipline, duty, and
obligation. And dimly I felt that we were a race that had come to the
world to stay and to help, while theirs was perhaps some day to vanish
utterly.



CHAPTER VI

AUNT KALLIROË


There is no use pretending that there has ever existed the least sense
of fraternity between the Greeks and the Turks. They had their quarters
and we had ours. They brought their customs and traditions from the
East, and we held fast to our own. The two races had nothing to give
each other. They ignored us totally, and we only remembered them to
hate them and to make ready some day to throw off their dominion.

I have never heard a good word for the Turks from such of my people
as have not crossed their thresholds. It is almost unbelievable that
for upward of four hundred years we should have lived side by side,
ignorant of each other’s history, and positively refusing to learn of
each other’s good qualities. With entire sincerity the Greeks daily
relate to each other awful deeds of the Turks--deeds which are mere
rumour and hearsay, and contain only a grain of truth, or none at all.

Each side did its best to keep the other as far away as possible. They
had their resorts and we had ours. They had their _tekhé_ and
we had our schools; they had their mosques and we had our churches;
they had their Punch and Judy shows and we had our theatres; they
had their music and we had our own; they had their language and we
clung jealously to ours. Our own differences we did not bring before
the Turkish law, but before our own Church. Neither in sorrow nor in
pleasure did we mingle. Turkey is the only country in the world where
one may travel for months without using the language of the country,
with such great tenacity do the conquered races cling to their own.
Indeed, in order to live comfortably in Constantinople, one must know
Greek, not Turkish.

After I had played with Turkish girls for two years, had been in
and out of their homes as a friend, and liked them, one morning my
grand-aunt Kalliroë came to our house in a great state of excitement
and worry.

“Go fetch your father, dear,” she cried to me, “and tell him that it is
of the utmost importance--of the utmost _national_ importance.”

Aunt Kalliroë was an old lady, and the last of her type I remember.
She was of an old Phanariot family, and to her the traditions of
Phanar--the Greek portion of Constantinople--were as important as her
religious duties. She always dressed in the old fashion of Phanar,
wearing black lace, turban-like, on her head, a dress in one piece,
with ample skirts, and a shawl which she let hang gracefully over her
shoulders. She was tall and imposing, with the sharp features of the
Greeks of Phanar, which perhaps were sharpened during their first two
hundred years under Turkish rule. Even in her old age her eyes were
as piercing and clear as a hawk’s. She carried a cane, and wore silk
mittens made by hand; and whenever she met a Turk in the street she
muttered exorcizing words, as if he were an evil spirit.

Upon her marriage she had at first gone to live in another community,
where the Greek traditions were not so rigidly adhered to. At once she
decided that her marriage was providential, and that God had meant her
to go to this place to revive the Greek spirit. She undertook her task
with a fervour at once patriotic and religious; and she succeeded in
her mission, for she made these wayward sheep return rigorously to the
fold.

“Go, child!” she now admonished me impatiently. “Don’t stand there and
stare at me--go fetch your father.”

I knew my father did not like to be disturbed in the morning, but
I knew also that there was not a human being who did not obey Aunt
Kalliroë, so I went and fetched my father.

“Nephew!” she cried, without any greeting, as soon as she saw him, “I
will not countenance it--I will not tolerate it! He must be made to
understand the impossibility of his desire.”

My father sat down by her, took her silk-mittened hand, and kissed the
fingers.

“Now just tell me who is ‘he.’”

Aunt Kalliroë looked at my father with disgusted surprise.

“Nephew, are you living at the North Pole, and not in Turkey? Baky
Pasha, of course.”

She flung the name as if it were a bomb, and waited for it to explode.
My father took the matter calmly.

“What has he done?” he inquired.

“Nephew, what is the matter with you? Don’t you know?”

My father shook his head. “Tell me,” he begged.

“He is proposing to buy the Spathary homestead! The--Spathary--homestead!
Why the man didn’t leave it to the Church I can’t understand; but I
suppose the stroke prevented him from putting his affairs in order. Well,
his only heirs live in Roumania, and they want to sell the house, not to
rent it, and what is more they are asking a ridiculous price. The house
has been vacant for two years; and now Baky Pasha, the Asiatic brute and
murderer, proposes to buy it, to buy a Christian home, which contains a
niche for our saints in every bed-chamber--a home which has been blessed
by our priests, and in which many a Christian child has been baptized!”

She threw up her hands in despair.

“Christian God, are you going to try your children much more? You have
sent these Asiatic hordes to come and conquer us; you have allowed your
great church to be polluted by their profane creed; and now are you
going to try your children further by permitting these beasts to buy
Christian homes to lead their improper lives in?”

My father waited till her outburst came to an end, and then said
gently: “You know, Aunt Kalliroë, Baky is a very nice fellow, and what
is more he has never murdered anybody, or is likely to.”

My grand-aunt stared at my father; then asked stiffly: “And what is his
nationality, please?”

“He is a Turk, of course----”

“A Turk--and not a murderer?” She lifted her eyes to the ceiling.
“Christian God, what are we coming to? Is 1453 so far away that your
children have forgotten it? A Turk--and not a murderer! But I am not
here to discuss the Turks with you, nephew; for are you not a Turkish
official, do you not consort daily with these barbarians, and do they
not even say that you permit your innocent babe to sleep under the
roof where Turks keep their women? Christian God, give grace to your
children.”

She joined her hands, and her lips moved in silent prayer.

“Just tell me what I can do for you?” my father begged.

“You can speak for me to that Turk, and tell him that the Spathary
homestead is Greek, and that it is in the midst of a Greek community,
where he is not wanted. If he offers so much money that it will be sold
to him, well, it shall be burned to the ground before he moves into it,
that is all.”

My father opened his cigarette case, and offered her a cigarette, for
all the women of her generation smoked.

She selected one, and examined it closely. “I am gratified at least to
see that you smoke what is made by your countrymen, and not Turkish
cigarettes.”

My father laughed. “Why, auntie, there is not a Turkish cigarette-maker
in all Turkey. All the Turkish cigarettes are made by Greeks.”

Aunt Kalliroë took a puff or two; then, for once, on the defensive, she
observed: “All decent things are made by Greeks--isn’t that so?”

“I suppose so.”

“You ought not to ‘suppose so,’” she cried, again on the offensive;
“you ought to be certain. Christian God, what are we coming to? Is this
the patriotism to be expected of the men who must try to free your
great church from the Mussulman profaning?”

“Tell me, how do you propose to settle the Spathary matter?” my father
asked, reverting to the less dangerous topic. “If Baky shouldn’t buy
it, how would you keep off other Turks who might wish to buy? Your
community is an old-fashioned one. The younger generation of Greeks is
moving away from it; and only rich Turks will buy the big old Greek
homesteads.”

“I propose to buy it myself,” she thundered, “and move into it, and
sell my own house to the Bishop of Heraclea, who wants it.”

“How much does he offer for your house?”

“Four thousand pounds.”

“And what do the Spathary heirs ask?”

“Those Roumanian Greeks have no more idea of value than they have of
patriotism--they are asking five thousand, and what is more I shall
have to pay it.”

“Then you will sell the home of your husband’s forefathers, and pay a
thousand pounds more for an inferior one?”

She banged her stick on the floor in exasperation. “I am not driving
a money bargain: I am keeping a Turk from coming among us. Great
Christian God, am I to permit an infidel to pass daily by my door, and
to walk the street where Christian virgins dwell?”

“Why doesn’t the Bishop buy the Spathary homestead?” my father
suggested.

“It isn’t big enough. It hasn’t enough ground. And it’s farther from
the landing. Now, are you going to carry my message to that brutal
Turk?”

“Yes, certainly. And I know that he will not be willing to buy where he
is not wanted. But I am sorry that you are going to lose your own home,
and pay a thousand pounds over.”

“Needn’t worry! I have enough to live on, and, as you know, all my
money goes to the Educational Fund, so that I might just as well use a
thousand pounds now to keep a Turk away from Christians.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The next time we visited Aunt Kalliroë she was installed in the
Spathary homestead. Just within the front door stood a small table,
covered with a white linen table-cloth, such as orthodox Greek women
spun themselves for the purpose of putting on the tables where the
ikons were laid--table-cloths always washed by the mistress herself
in a basin kept apart from the other dishes. On the table lay a Greek
ikon, a brass candlestick holding three candles, all burning, and a
brass incense-burner, from which a column of blue smoke was rising,
filling the house with the odour of incense.

“Why, it isn’t Easter and it isn’t Christmas,” I cried. “It isn’t even
a great saint’s day. Why are you burning the candles and the incense,
Aunt Kalliroë?”

“They have been burning since I moved into this house, and they shall
burn for thrice forty days, to cleanse it from Turkish pollution.”

“But since Baky Pasha never bought it, and never lived in it----”

“No, but a Turk has coveted it, and that is enough to pollute a
Christian home.”

This incident is one of many. It illustrates the feeling which existed
in the hearts of the orthodox Greeks for the people who conquered them
and brought, to the very capital of their former empire, their religion
and their customs. We disliked them and feared them; and our fear
partook both of the real and of the unreal, because we ascribed to them
not only the deeds which they had done, but also a great many that they
were incapable of doing, and had not even considered the possibility of
doing.

I wonder now what would have been the outcome had the Greeks and the
Turks mingled more together; had they come to know each other and
to recognize each other’s good qualities, and had they been able to
profit by the good which is in each nation. Had the Turks, for example,
borrowed from the light of Greek civilization and culture; and had the
Greeks profited by the calm contemplative spirit, which is the keynote
of the Turkish character, when not in war. I wonder always what would
have been the outcome, and perhaps that is one more reason why I try to
show what is best in the Turks--to save the gold from the dross, and to
disentangle from the bad what was divine and immortal in them.

We Greeks have never been able to learn from them and to give something
in exchange; but why let it be lost to the whole world? And since we
call ourselves Christians, why should we not be able to say--when the
sick shall be dead--even as Christ said of the dead dog: “Yes, he is a
dead dog--but his teeth are beautiful.”



CHAPTER VII

IN THE HOLLOW OF ALLAH’S HAND


My visits to Djimlah continued, and her daring spirit was a continual
delight to me. I had never seen her afraid of anything, and she did
pretty much as she chose. One day when I was visiting her, a tremendous
thunder-storm broke out, and I said to her:

“Oh, Djimlah, let us go out in your grounds and watch the storm. They
never let me do that at home, and I do so want to find its roots.”

She did not accept the proposal with alacrity. “It will rain hard in
a minute,” she objected, “and we shall get wet. I hate to look like a
rat--and all the curl will come out of my hair.”

“I believe you are afraid, like the other women,” I mocked her. “Maybe
if you had a European bed in your home you would go and hide under it.”

She rose majestically: “Come, we will go and see whether I am afraid.”

We went out, bent on finding the beginning of the storm. I always
thought that a storm must have a beginning; and from the windows of
my nursery, where I watched the storms, it looked as if it were just
around the corner. In vain, however, on that day did we wander around
many corners, on Djimlah’s grounds: we could find no beginning.

The storm grew fiercer and fiercer. The whole sky was dark
lead-coloured, and black clouds rushed along as if a tremendous force
were pushing them from behind. The lightning, like a vicious snake,
was zigzagging over the sky. Then there came a bang! and a crash of
thunder. By that time we were far from the house, and on the cliffs.
Djimlah put her arm within mine.

“I am possessed with fear,” she gasped; “for Allah is wrathful.”

Her tone was full of awe, and it subdued me. “Let us go back,” I said.

“No, it will overtake us, and crush us,” Djimlah answered. “I don’t
want to die--not just yet. We must hide somewhere.”

At this time I was being taught my Bible, and felt that I knew a great
deal about religious subjects.

“We can’t hide from God,” I explained. “He sees us everywhere--even in
the darkest corner of a dark closet.”

“I don’t want to hide from God,” Djimlah corrected, “I want to hide
from the thunder. Come! I know where we can go--to the Hollow of
Allah’s Hand.”

Hand in hand we ran as fast as we could against the hard, beating
rain, the fierce wind blowing against us, bending even big trees,
and mercilessly breaking off their branches. With the agility of
children we managed to reach a high cliff partly concealed by pines.
It resembled a gigantic hand, rising up, the fingers curving over and
forming a protected hollow. Into this we crept and sat down, high above
the Sea of Marmora, with miles and miles of horizon in front of us.

In our little shelter the rain could not get at us, but we were already
wet, and our clothes clung to us uncomfortably.

“Let us take our coats off,” suggested Djimlah, “for the under layer
must be less wet than the upper one. And also let us take off our shoes
and stockings. We shall be more comfortable without them.”

We divested ourselves of some of our clothing, and as the hollow where
we sat had sand, we stretched our coats in front of us to dry, curled
our feet under us, and snuggled very close to each other.

The storm was still raging, but we now looked upon it with the renewed
interest and pleasure derived from our safety.

“We didn’t find its roots after all,” Djimlah observed. “I believe it
begins at the feet of Allah and ends there, and since we are sitting
in the hollow of his hand it can’t hurt us.”

It struck me as curious that she should be talking of God so
familiarly. In my ignorance of their religious side, I considered the
Turks as infidels and without religion.

“I didn’t know that God had any hands,” I remarked. “I thought He was
only an eye--at least that is the way He is painted on the ceiling of
our church.”

Djimlah shook her head. “How can He be only an eye? Have you ever seen
a person being only an eye?”

“He isn’t a person,” I retorted. “He is God, which is very different
from being a person,” and yet as I spoke the words, something I had
just learned popped into my head, that man was created in the image of
God. Magnanimously I mentioned this to Djimlah.

“I always knew that,” she agreed, “and I know whom He looks like, too.
He looks like grandfather at his best.”

“Your grandfather is old,” I protested. “God isn’t an old man.”

Djimlah pondered this. “Well, He has lived ever since the beginning of
the world--and grandfather is only sixty.” She looked at me puzzled.
“That’s funny. I never thought much about His age.”

“Yes,” I put in more perplexed still, “and His Son, if He had lived,
would have been almost nineteen hundred years old.”

She turned abruptly, and her face in the little hollow was very near
mine.

“What son?” she inquired with interest.

“Jesus Christ, our Lord,” I answered.

“Your prophet? Why, He wasn’t His Son. Allah never married,” and again
the words flashed into my mind that there was neither giving nor taking
in marriage in heaven. Yet I stood by my orthodoxy.

“Christ _is_ the Son of God,” I maintained.

Djimlah, too, stood by her belief. “Allah had no children of the flesh.
Christ was only a prophet--and He was second to Mohammed.”

A brilliant idea came to me. “You know, Djimlah,” I explained, “I am
not talking of Allah, I am talking of God.”

“They are all the same,” she asserted. “There is but one Heaven and one
Earth, and one Sun and one Moon. Therefore there is but one God, and
that is Allah, and we are His children.”

I was staggered by her confident tone. Djimlah with her words had made
of me a Mohammedan and an infidel--something religiously unclean and
unspeakable. And, what is more, she was unconscious of the enormity of
her speech: she was excitedly watching the lightning, now making all
sorts of arabesques on the sky.

“Watch, darling, watch!” she cried. “I know now what the storm is. It
is fireworks, Allah’s fireworks!”

“Fireworks--foolishness!” I exclaimed peevishly; for I was sorely hurt
at the idea of her being on equal terms with me before God. “God is not
frivolous--He does not want any fireworks. He is vastly busy watching
the world, and guiding the destinies of the human race.”

“Why should He watch and guide?” Djimlah said proudly. “He knows
everything from the beginning; for He writes it on the foreheads of
people. My destiny is written here,” she pointed to her forehead, “and
yours is written there.” She tapped my forehead.

I hated her, and crossly pushed her finger from my forehead.

“He doesn’t,” I cried, “for He leaves us free to choose whether we
shall be brave or cowardly, whether we shall do good or evil.”

She laughed derisively. “A nice kind of a father you would make of
Him--taking no more care of us than that. But do stop arguing and watch
the storm. Isn’t it glorious?”

Indeed the lightning over the Asiatic side of Turkey was wonderful. The
storm had worked its way over there, and the rain had followed, leaving
our side of the coast clear. Right above us a yellowish cloud tore open
and disclosed the sun. Djimlah greeted him with delight. She extended
her little arms up toward him, crying:

“Come out, Sun Effendi, come out! You are so golden and warm, and I am
so cold.”

She shook her little body and rose, jumping up and down to get warm.

As if to oblige her the sun’s rays grew stronger and stronger, and
we began to feel better under their warmth. We could hear the storm
growling miles away now, and see only bits of lightning.

“It’s working its way back to Allah,” said Djimlah, “so let’s go home,
and get dry clothes and something to eat. But I am glad we came out,
for now you know that it has no roots.” She put her arm around me. “I
used to be afraid of the noise,” she confessed sheepishly. “I used to
hide my head in some one’s lap. I never knew it was so beautiful. You
made me see that.”

This deference pleased me, yet it did not take away the smart from
which I was suffering. Indeed, the calm assertion of Djimlah that we
were all in the same way children of God hurt me more than any abstract
proposition has since been able to. Had she intimated that the Turks
and the Greeks were alike, I could have proved to her by actual facts
that the Greeks were superior to the Turks, because they had attained
to the noblest civilization, the most beautiful architecture, and the
greatest literature in the world; but how was I to prove my position of
superiority before God?

The afternoon passed in various games, in which I took only a
half-hearted interest. Then came supper and bedtime. I was spending the
night there, and by the time I was to go to bed my smart, instead of
being lessened, had grown tremendously. I undressed silently.

The old _hanoum_ came in to hear us say our prayers. Up to this
time I had not minded praying with Djimlah to Allah. I was sure it did
not matter, because when I was tucked in bed, I crossed myself three
times, and implored the Virgin Mary to watch over me and over those I
loved. To-night it was different. If I were to show Djimlah that I did
not believe in her words, I must stop praying to her god; so I said:

“I shall not pray to Allah to-night.”

“Oh, but you _must_,” Djimlah declared. “You wouldn’t like to
disappoint him, would you?”

“I don’t belong to him,” I asserted passionately. “I don’t belong to
him. I belong to God, so I don’t care whether I disappoint Allah or
not.”

“Djimlah,” interposed her grandmother, “you must let the little
_hanoum_ do as she likes. You and I can pray alone.”

Djimlah stood before her grandmother, her face tilted upward, her hands
outstretched, palms upward.

“Allah, the only true god of heaven and earth, be praised! There is
no other God but God, the great, the wonderful, the just. Allah be
praised!”

She kissed her grandmother and me, and the old lady kissed us both, and
put us to bed. No sooner was she out of the room than Djimlah said:

“Baby mine, I believe the storm has upset you. You have been so quiet
all the afternoon--and now you don’t even pray.”

“I am upset,” I replied. “But it isn’t the storm--it’s you.”

She sat up in bed. “Now what have I done to offend you, when you are
under my roof?”

“It wasn’t under your roof. It was when we were in the open, during the
storm.”

“That part of the heavenly roof being over grandfather’s land is our
roof,” she corrected me.

“Well, I don’t care what you call it, you have offended me.”

“But, darling,” she cried, “how did I do it? I don’t remember it.”

“I can’t quite explain it; but, although I have been very fond of you,
I don’t like you to say that you and I are the children of God in the
same way, and----”

She interrupted me--and it was a pity, too; for at the moment I was
getting it quite clear how she was not my equal before God, and
afterwards I could not quite get it again.

“But, _yavroum_, much loved by the stars and the rivers, are we
not Allah’s children, you and I?”

“No!” I cried bitterly, “I have nothing to do with Allah. He is a
cruel, beastly god, who tells people to kill--and you _know_ you
have killed thousands of us--and little babies, too!”

To my surprise I found myself hating the Turks with a hatred I never
thought I could feel since I had come to know them. And I was miserable
because I was in the same bed with Djimlah.

Her eyes glistened in the semi-darkness. Our little bed faced the
windows, where there were no curtains, and the light undisturbed was
pouring in from the stars above, which we could see twinkling at us.

“Funny! funny! funny!” she kept saying to herself. “I thought you liked
us--and oh! I do adore you so! I felt as if truly you were my own baby.”

She had on a night-dress made of light brown cambric, with yellow and
red flowers on it. Her hair was tied at the top of her head with a
yellow ribbon, from which was dangling a charm against the evil eye. It
came over me how unlike a Greek child she was, and how very Turkish.

“Djimlah!” I cried, “you are not, and you shall not be my equal before
God.”

She crossed her hands on her breast and became lost in meditation.
After awhile she said:

“There is no other God but God--and we are all His children. So they
told me and I believe it, don’t you?”

I shook my head. “There is Allah, and there is God,” I replied. “And I
am a Greek, and you are a Turk--and the Turks are very cruel people.”

“Have we been cruel to you, all this long time you have come to see us?”

“No,” I had to admit, “but you are cruel just the same. If you will
read history you will know how cruel you are; for when you took
Constantinople, for days and nights you were killing our people and
burning our homes.” I was ready to weep over our past wrongs, and my
blood was boiling. “I don’t love you any more--and God doesn’t love you
either.”

Djimlah’s eyes opened wide open. “I don’t understand. Let’s go to
grandmother: she will explain things to us.”

“I don’t want them explained. I shall go home to-morrow, and never,
never, so long as I live, shall I again speak to you, or to any Turkish
child.”

At this Djimlah began to cry: at first softly, then yelling at the top
of her lungs. This brought not only the old _hanoum_ but a bevy of
the younger ones.

It took some time to pacify Djimlah, who managed to convey between her
sobs that I, her own baby, “her own flesh and blood,” as she put it,
was no longer coming to see her, because she was a Turkish child and
because Constantinople had been burned.

The old _hanoum_ sent the younger women out of the room, put
Djimlah on the hard sofa by the window and wrapped her in a shawl. Then
she came to me, tucked me in a blanket, and carried me near to Djimlah.
After that she fetched two enormous Turkish delights with nuts in them,
and two glasses of water.

“Both of you, eat and drink.”

When this operation was over, she said quietly: “Now tell me all about
it.”

As well as I could I told her of what Djimlah had said, and of my
feelings on the subject.

“I don’t want to be equal with her before God,” I protested. “It isn’t
right; for she is a Turk, and I am a Greek.”

“Well, my sweet _yavroum_, you are all mixed up about just where
you stand before God. At present you stand nowhere, because you are
only babies. As you grow older your place will be determined by your
usefulness in the world, your kindness and gentleness, by the way you
treat your husband’s mother and his other wives, and how healthy and
well brought up his children are. As to your being a Greek and Djimlah
a Turk, that is only geography,” she explained vaguely. “When we shall
die and go to God, we shall be that which we have made of ourselves.”

“She says that we are wicked and brutal, and burned Constantinople,
and killed the people,” Djimlah moaned.

“That was because Allah willed it. Nothing happens without the will of
Allah, and his word must be carried by the sword. We like you and love
you, and could no more harm you than we could harm Djimlah.” She leaned
over and took me on her lap. “Now, _yavroum_, remember that Allah
is father to you all, and he loves you equally well; and all you have
to do is to love each other and be good and go to sleep, and that will
please him.”

She kissed me, and drew Djimlah to us, and made us kiss each other.

A latent sense of justice made me recognize how good she was; and
although I did not relinquish my nationality as a bit of geography, I
recognized that there was something in what she said. So I kissed the
old _hanoum_, and kissed Djimlah, and obediently was led away to
bed. Then she sat by us and sang us a little lullaby.

After she had left us Djimlah put her arms around me and whispered: “Do
you love me again? For I love you just the same, and when we grow up
let us marry the same effendi, and never be separated.”

I did not go away the next day because Djimlah would not listen to it.
She was afraid lest I should keep to my first intention, and never
return. She wanted to talk over everything with me, which we did; and
with the help of the old _hanoum_, her light and her kindness, I
saw things a little better.

Just as my idea of the ferocity of the Turks in their homes had long
ago vanished, so what they believed and taught God to be appealed to
me; and, although I retained my own idea of the relative importance
of the two races in this world, I could not help feeling that perhaps
the old hanoum was right, and that our position before God was less a
matter of creed and belief than of how we lived our lives.



CHAPTER VIII

YILDERIM


As I look back on those years of close intimacy with Turkish children,
and our various discussions and squabbles, I cannot but feel thankful
for opportunities denied most children. And I can see now that a
great deal of the hatred which separates the different creeds and
nationalities is inculcated in our hearts before we are capable of
judging, by those who do their best to teach us brotherly love.

During the first year of our friendship, Djimlah and I played
mostly alone. It is true that whenever other harems came to visit
Djimlah’s, and brought along girls of our age, we had to accept their
presence--either with alacrity or reluctance, depending on what we
had afoot. There were days when Djimlah and I were about to enact
some chapter of “The Arabian Nights,” and then we little cared to be
disturbed by outsiders; but oriental politeness forced Djimlah to play
the hostess.

I rarely invited her to my house. First, because my mother positively
objected to Turks; and secondly because I had so little to offer her.
She would have to share my life, as I shared hers, and my life meant
lessons, duties, and discipline; so I preferred to go to her, and on
Saturday nights I usually slept there.

We were quite happy by ourselves, because we made a very good team.
Though we both liked to be generals, we alternated the generalship. One
time Djimlah led, the next she obeyed orders. Our generalship consisted
in planning what sort of characters we were to be; and I am forced to
confess that on the days of Djimlah’s generalship things moved much
the best. Indeed I had to spend half my time as general in explaining
to her the Greek mythology, in order that she might understand the
characters we were to represent, while on her days I knew “The Arabian
Nights” as well as she.

Before the year was over, we admitted to our circle a third, little
Chakendé, whose father was a subaltern of Djimlah’s grandfather.
Chakendé’s home was not far from ours, yet we met her first by
accident, and ever so far away from home.

It was on a hot August evening, when I was spending the night with
Djimlah. The heat was so great that even at seven o’clock the rooms
were yet hot. The old _hanoum_ said it was not necessary for us
to go to bed until it became cool, and we were playing in the garden.
We were up in a tall tree; for I had taught Djimlah to climb--a thing
she took to much more naturally than learning Greek mythology. The tree
was very tall, and its branches hung over the high garden wall which
protected the _haremlik_ from the world’s eyes.

Presently a little urchin came and stood in the street below. Like a
bird about to sing, he threw his head back, and in a clear, loud voice
half chanted:

“_Bou axan kaïhri kavéshindé, ei karagiuzlar, kim istersin bouyour
sun_,” which meant, “This evening at the café of Kairi there is to
be a good show of Punch and Judy, and who wishes to come is welcome.”

Having delivered his announcement, he walked a block farther on, and
chanted it again. By the time he was out of ear-shot we had the words
letter perfect, and began to chant it ourselves from the top of our
tree. We were so pleased with our accomplishment that we scrambled down
to earth and proceeded to deliver it before each of the groups of women
lying on rugs in the immense garden, waiting for the heat to lessen.

Then, with the privilege of our age, we penetrated into the
_selamlik_, the men’s quarters, and proceeded to the dining-room,
where the old pasha, his sons, sons-in-law, and guests were dining. We
mounted on the sofa, and hand in hand burst forth, imitating the street
urchin as best we were able.

The men laughed till the tears came into their eyes; then the old pasha
bade us come to him, and taking one of us on each knee, he asked:

“So the young _hanoums_ wish to go, do they?”

“Go where?” we inquired.

“To the show of Punch and Judy.”

“Can we?” we cried simultaneously.

“I believe so,” the grandfather replied.

“Go now--this minute?”

The old man nodded.

It was a case of speechless delight with us. The old pasha turned to
his company. “I am going to take the little _hanoums_ to the show,
and who wishes to come is welcome.”

We dashed back to the _haremlik_ and made ready in the greatest
excitement. Our excitement was shared by all the women. They came in to
see us made ready, and told us to be sure to remember everything in the
show to repeat to them.

The show was given in a common garden café, such as the small
bureaucracy and proletariat of Turkish masculinity frequents; but the
Turks are essentially democratic, and our party did not mind this in
the least.

The limits of the café were indicated by canvas hung on ropes to screen
the show from the unpaying eye. Within were seats at twopence apiece,
and seats at a penny. Djimlah and I were installed in special chairs
at threepence, placed in front of the first row, which the men of our
party occupied--and then the show opened.

It took place behind a piece of white cheese cloth, lighted by oil
lamps, and a few wooden puppets acted the play. A great deal of
swearing, beating, killing and dying took place in the most picturesque
Turkish. The audience laughed to hysterics. As for Djimlah and me, we
were simply delirious with joy. Nor did our pleasure end with that
evening. We learned a lot of the vernacular of the piece, and the next
day acted it for the delectation of the entire harem, who made us
repeat it several times, Djimlah being half the characters, and I the
other half.

When I tried to repeat my histrionic success at home--being all the
characters--I saw my father give a glance at my mother, who, not
knowing a word of Turkish, sat unperturbed, while our two men guests
were doing their best to suppress their laughter. As I wanted my mother
to enjoy it too, I began to explain the whole thing to her, but, by one
of those cabalistic signs which existed between my father and myself,
I understood that I had better not explain; and after we were alone my
father said to me:

“You know mamma does not like Turkish things, and you had better never
explain them to her. As a rule I would rather have you tell them to me
when we are all alone. And I shouldn’t like you to repeat this piece
again; for, although it may be right for the actors to say all the
things they did, it is better for little girls not to repeat them.”

“But, father,” I protested, frightfully disappointed, “Djimlah and I
acted it all before her grandmother and the ladies of her household,
and they made us repeat it several times.”

“That is because they are Turks. We are Greeks, and that makes a very
big difference.”

It was at this Punch and Judy Show that we met the little girl who was
to become our constant companion. During an intermission her father
came up to salute the old pasha, and brought little Chakendé with him.
Immediately Djimlah’s grandfather ordered an extra chair for the little
girl, and told her to sit down beside us. She was very sweet looking,
about the age of Djimlah. We liked her so much that we asked her where
she lived, and on hearing that it was not far from us, we invited her
to come the next day to Djimlah’s house.

This she did, and we liked her even better; for she submitted to us
very gracefully. She never wavered in this attitude, but it was far
from being a cowardly submission.

She was then engaged to be married to a boy in Anatolia, whose
father had been a lifelong friend of her father’s. The engagement
had taken place when Chakendé was an hour old, and the lad seven
years old. By blood I considered Chakendé superior to Djimlah; for
Djimlah’s forefathers, for hundreds of years, had been officials,
while Chakendé’s had been warriors. They had been followers of the
great Tartar ruler Timur-Lang, with whose people the Turks had been
in constant warfare for centuries--now one side and then the other
being victorious. It was this Timur-Lang, who, early in the fifteenth
century, defeated the Turks, in the great battle of Angora, and took
Sultan Bayazet captive, and kept him prisoner in a cage till he died.

Chakendé was very proud of this descent, and although she was now half
full of Turkish blood, yet she clung to her Tartar ancestry, and when
she told me about the battles her eyes lighted up and she was very
pretty.

The lad to whom she was engaged, and whom she had not yet seen, was
also of the same clan, and she already entertained for him much
affection, and often spoke of him in such terms as, “my noble Bey,” “my
proud betrothed.”

The more we saw of her the better we liked her, not only because she
submitted to us, but because she fitted so well into all the parts we
gave her to play, and we generally gave her such parts as we did not
ourselves like to do. Whenever there was any fighting to do she was
ordered to do it, because she could give such a terrific yell--the
yell of the Timur-Lang Clan, she said--and became so wild, and made the
fighting seem so real that we liked to watch her. And she was really
brave; for she never minded worms--which made Djimlah and me wriggle
like one.

Chakendé did not speak with dislike of the Turks to me. She looked upon
them entirely as her people. “We have become one race,” she said. “They
are full of our blood, and we are full of theirs. Besides, we are of
the same faith.”

I could see, in spite of Djimlah’s affection for me, and the old
_hanoum’s_ kindness and tolerance, and of the politeness of all
the Turks toward us, that they held a Christian to be inferior to
a Mohammedan. They did not say much about it, but I felt that they
considered themselves a superior race, by virtue of their origin
and religion. As I grew older, I no longer entered into national or
religious discussions. I did not even mind their feeling superior,
since I knew that this feeling was all they had, and that the real
superiority lay with us, and if they did not have this mistaken conceit
they would be very sorry for themselves. And, in spite of my kindly
feelings toward them, I was always aware that deep down in my heart
was planted the seed of hatred toward them--a seed which was never to
wither and die, even if it were not to grow very large.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when little children will be
spared the planting of these seeds, when they will be brought up in
the teaching that there is but one God and one nationality--or that
the God and the nationality of other little children is as good as our
own: that we are all brothers and sisters, linked together by Nature to
carry out her work, and to give to each other the best that is in us? I
wonder whether we shall ever be trained so as not to care whether our
particular nation is big and powerful, but whether every human being is
receiving the chance to develop the best in him, in order that he may
give that best to the rest of the world?

The bond which existed between Djimlah and Chakendé often gave me food
for thought. For centuries their people fought each other. Then they
amalgamated and made one, loved each other, and shared each other’s
destiny. My people had fought their people, and they had conquered
us--yet there was no amalgamation. My civilization stood on one side,
and theirs on the other, and in that dividing line stood Christ and
Mohammed, insurmountable barriers. I loved Djimlah, I loved Chakendé;
but, if any question arose, I was fore-most a Greek, and they were
Turks. They were Turks having the upper hand over us--a hand armed with
a scourge. And if they kept that hand behind their back, and I could
not see it, I knew that it held the whip, and that at times they used
it both heavily and unjustly. And I felt that my race must watch its
opportunity to get hold of that whip.

The arrival of Chakendé, and later of Nashan and Semmaya, brought into
my friendship with Djimlah a feeling which did not exist before. It is
true that, on the first day we met, Djimlah and I almost fought over
the bravery of our respective nations, and her assumption of equality
before God had almost ended our friendship; yet never by word or sign
did she do anything to rouse our racial antagonism. But when the two of
us grew into a group, and of that group I remained the only Greek, they
sometimes forgot, and spoke unguardedly.

One day, for example, when Djimlah’s grandfather had given each of us
some money to spend, we were waiting for the afternoon vendor to pass
in order to buy candy. We waited for a long time--unendurably long, we
thought--before the stillness of the afternoon vibrated with the words:

“_Seker, sekerji!_”

We rushed to the door, pennies in hand, and stamped impatiently for the
white-clad figure to come near. Then Chakendé exclaimed peevishly:

“Oh, it isn’t Ali. It’s the Christian dog. Let’s not buy of him--let’s
wait for Ali.”

In an instant I was transformed. I was wholly the child of my uncle,
wearing the Turkish yoke. I got hold of Chakendé’s two long braids,
and pulled and kicked--for when it came to real, not make-believe,
fighting I was more than her equal.

Djimlah’s courtesy and tact alone saved the situation. She immediately
called to the Christian _sekerji_, and told us she was going to
treat us with all her pennies. Moreover, she addressed herself most
politely to the vendor, approved of his wares, and even praised his
complexion to him.

Occurrences similar to this arose from time to time. If not often,
still they did arise, and they served as water and air and sunshine
to the little seed planted years before. I used to become so angry,
and to strike them so hard and so quickly that they nicknamed me
“_yilderim_,” which means thunder-storm.

Djimlah had a little boy cousin, Mechmet, who lived a short distance
from her, and who sometimes came to play with her. He was nice
and generous, and gave us ungrudgingly of whatever he had. He was
particularly nice to me, and I liked him because he had large blue eyes
and light golden hair.

One day when we were playing together he said to me: “I like you ever
so much, and when we grow up we can be married.”

I shook my head: “That can’t be, because you are a Turk and I am
a Greek.”

“That doesn’t matter. I shall make you my wife just the same,” he
answered confidently.

From a remote past there arose memories in me, memories perhaps
acquired through reading, or lived in former existences; and pictures
came before me of Greek parents weeping because a little girl was born
to them--a little girl who, if she grew up to be pretty, would be
mercilessly snatched from them and taken to a Turkish _selamlik_.
And as picture succeeded picture, I became again entirely the child of
my uncle, with a hatred for the Turks as ungovernable as it seemed holy.

Wild now, like a fierce little brute, I struck Mechmet, and struck and
struck again; and at the sight of the blood flowing from his nose an
exaltation possessed me. I was a girl, I could not carry arms--but with
my own hands I could kill a Turkish boy, and be able to say to my uncle
when we met again in the other world: “Uncle, girl though I am, I have
killed a Turk!”

Djimlah, after vainly imploring us to stop fighting, ran to the cistern
and drew a bucket of cold water. In our battle we had fallen down, and
Djimlah drenched us with water, and the icy shower stopped our battle.

In our room she was very severe with me. “Baby mine, I believe
sometimes you are mad! Why, you ought only to be glad if a boy says he
will marry you. What are girls for, but to be given to men and to bear
them children?”

“Did I kill him?” I asked anxiously.

She thought I was frightened, and came over and smoothed my hair. “Of
course you didn’t kill him; but he is much the worse for the beating
you gave him.”

Then I wept bitterly in utter contempt for myself at having failed
in such a small task as killing just a little Turkish boy. Years
afterwards, when I accidentally found myself in the midst of the
Armenian massacres, I could appreciate probably better than most
spectators the feeling of racial antipathy which gloried in the
shedding of blood.



CHAPTER IX

I AM REMINDED OF MY SONS AGAIN


The little girl who made the fourth of our group was Nashan, whom I met
under peculiar circumstances.

My father was in the habit of taking me with him whenever he went for
a long walk. Generally other men went with us, and their conversation
consisted of politics, a subject which delighted me especially, though
I could but half understand it.

On one such day, we were walking on the St Nicholas Road, which was
long and wide, with the hills on one side, scattered cypress trees
and the sea on the other. The sun was setting, the heat of the day
was calming; and the Sea of Marmora, roused by the breeze, was
rhythmically lapping the shore, and adding freshness to the hour.

My father as usual was discussing politics with another Greek, and I,
my hoop over my shoulder, was holding fast to one of his long fingers,
while my little feet heroically tried to keep step with the big feet
beside them.

At a turn in the road we came upon a group of Turks, preceded by a
little girl, seated astride a richly caparisoned donkey whose head
was covered with blue beads. She herself fairly outshone the donkey
in gorgeousness. I knew her by sight, as children know each other,
and she always aroused the liveliest interest in me on account of her
costumes. I never wore any thing myself except simple white linen, with
an English sailor hat, my sole gold adornment the name of her majesty’s
dreadnought on its ribbon.

The first time I encountered her, I had almost yelled at her, thinking
she was dressed up for fun, but the calm dignity with which she had
worn her ridiculous attire had convinced me that these were indeed her
usual clothes.

To-day she had on a red velvet gown, trimmed with gold lace, and made
in the latest Parisian fashion for grown-up women. Her silk-mittened
hands, bejewelled with rings and bracelets, held a crop with a golden
head, from which floated yards and yards of pale blue ribbon. On her
head perched a pink silk hat, adorned with large white ostrich plumes.

Quite in contrast to all this, a lock of hair hung down the middle
of her forehead, to which were tied pieces of garlic and various
other charms to ward off the evil eye.

The men of her group saluted the men of mine. The little girl eyed me,
and I frankly stared at her. When the men’s _temenas_ were ended,
she piped up:

“Father, this is the little girl I was telling you of--the one that
always dresses in sheeting.”

To think of a person dressed as she was criticizing _my_ clothes.
I rose on the points of my little white shoes, and extended an accusing
finger at her:

“And you are dressed like a _saltimbanque_!” I said. A
circus-rider was the only person with whom I felt I could properly
compare her.

“Oh! it is not true,” the little girl wailed. “I am dressed like a
great lady.”

The pasha, her father, smiled at my father. “_Zarar yok
Effedim!_ They will some day be women.”

My father saluted, and apologized for me, and we went on our way. A
few minutes later, although I knew it had not been his intention, we
mounted the stone steps which led to a rustic, open-air café.

He chose a table apart from the others, and gave an order to the
waiter. He said no word either to his companion or to me, but I knew
that he was worried. After the waiter had filled his order and gone, he
spoke:

“My daughter, you have just insulted that child.”

“But, father,” I protested, “she insulted me first.”

“She did not. Are you not dressed in the material of which sheets are
made?”

“And is she not dressed like a _saltimbanque_?” I argued.

“That is an insult; for she thinks she is correctly dressed. Moreover,
my child, we are the conquered race, and they are the masters here. So
long as we _are_ the conquered race we must accept insults, but we
are not in a position to return them. When you become a woman, teach
this bitter truth to your sons, and may be some day we shall no longer
need to accept insults.”

This was the first time my father had referred to my sons and what I
ought to teach them, since the day he had asked me not to think about
them but to get well and strong. He remained silent for some time after
this, and so did his companion. When we had finished our refreshments
my father rose.

“We had better go home now. I fear that something may come of this.”

“I fear so, too,” the other man said.

The first thing my father asked, at home, was whether a message had
come from Saad Pasha.

None had.

He sent me to my room without my customary kiss, and a vague terror
brooded over me during the whole restless night.

The next morning when I went to my father’s study and wished him
good morning, he only nodded to me, and kept on reading his paper. I
retreated to the window, where I occupied myself with breathing on the
panes and tracing figures on them with the point of my forefinger. It
was only a pretence of occupation, and I was alert for every movement
of my father’s, hoping he would relent and make friends again.

Presently the door of our garden opened, and admitted a Turkish slave,
followed by another, carrying a much beribboned and beflowered basket
on his head. I greatly wished to impart this news to my father; but
glancing at him I decided that if I wished to remain in the room I had
better stay quiet.

But what could be in the basket? I might have gone to inquire, except
that I feared if I left the study its doors might close behind me.
Besides, if the basket were for my father it would be presently brought
in; perhaps I should be permitted to open it, and-- From experience I
knew that such baskets often contained the sweetest of sweets. So I
waited quietly.

The door opened. Instead of a basket, my mother entered, a perplexed
frown on her forehead, a letter in her hand.

“What is it?” my father asked, rising.

“Here is a letter which came with a basket from Saad Pasha. I cannot
read it. It is in Turkish.”

My father took the letter and read it, and as he did so an expression
of relief came into his face.

“His wife invites you to go to her at once.”

“What!” my mother cried, “I go to her? _I!_ And pray why?”

My father pointed to me. “This is the why,” and in a few words he
related the incident of the previous evening.

“I will not go!” My mother stamped her foot. “I have never crossed a
Turk’s threshold, and I hope to die without doing so.”

My father walked up and down the room twice. At length he said slowly:

“There is the choice of crossing this Turkish threshold--because you
are bidden to--or all of us may have to cross the frontier, leaving
home and comfort behind us. Saad Pasha is a powerful man--at the
present moment the favourite in the palace--and our child has insulted
his.”

Both my parents remained silent for a minute, and my childish heart
burned with hatred for these Turks, who were our masters. It seemed as
if I could never live a month without having to hate them anew.

“I cannot speak their dreadful language,” my mother protested, half
yielding.

“Take this child with you,” my father said, pointing again at me. It
was dreadful to be called “this child.”

Half an hour later I was driving by my mother’s side to the
_koniak_ of the powerful pasha.

My mother had said the truth. She had never crossed the threshold of a
_haremlik_; and to her all Turks, be they men, women or children,
were pestiferous beings. She hated them as loyally and as fervently as
she worshipped her Christian God, and adored her own flag. She was a
Greek of the old blood, who could believe nothing good of those who,
four hundred years before, had conquered her people, and beheaded her
patriarch.

And now, because of her daughter’s misbehaviour, she was forced to obey
the summons of a Turkish woman. It was cruel and humiliating, and,
child though I was, I felt this.

The large doors of the _koniak_ were thrown open, as soon as our
carriage stopped before them. The immense hall within was filled with
women, in many coloured garments and beflowered head-dresses. And,
as they salaamed to the floor, they looked like huge flowers bending
before the wind. A number of times they rose and fell, rhythmically.
Then a lovely lady, in the old Anatolian costume, advanced and greeted
us.

There is no language in the world which lends itself so prettily
to yards and yards of welcoming words as Turkish. I translated the
phrases, full of perfume and flowers, which formed such a harmony with
the ladies and the home we were in, until even my mother was touched
by the pomp with which we were received; and the words full of exotic
charm and courtesy did much to assuage her bitterness.

I could see that she was even beginning to take an interest in this
life so entirely new to her. When the Turkish lady went on to say
that she was a stranger in this land; that she had come from far-away
Anatolia because her Lord-Master and Giver of Life was now near the
Shadow of Allah on Earth, and that she wished guidance, my mother
relented considerably. She had expected to be treated _de haut en
bas_: instead she was received not only as an equal, but as one
possessing superior knowledge.

With the same pomp and ceremony we were escorted upstairs, where we
were served with sweetmeats and coffee; and again sweetmeats and
sorbets. Then water was poured from brass pitchers into brass bowls; we
rinsed our hands and wiped them on embroidered napkins.

The sweet-faced lady spoke again, and I translated.

She wished to know whether her little Nashan was dressed like a great
lady, or like--whatever the word was.

“My mother has never seen Nashan,” I volunteered.

Thereupon Nashan was brought in, clad in a pale green satin gown,
low-necked and short-sleeved, in perfect fashion for a European lady
going to a ball.

My mother surveyed her doubtfully.

“Is she dressed like a great lady?” the _hanoum_ asked.

My mother pronounced her dressed like a lady.

The _hanoum_ scrutinized my mother’s countenance.

“Ask your mother why she does not dress you the same way?” she said.

The reply was that I was too little for such a gown.

“How old are you?” the _hanoum_ inquired.

“I am nine”--and I should have added some remarks of my own about
Nashan’s dress, had not the memory of the results of recent
observations of mine been still too fresh.

“My little Nashan is eleven. Ask your mother whether she will dress you
like my Nashan the year after next.”

“No,” was the reply.

“Why not? Is it because you have not so much money as we have, and
because your father is not so powerful as my lord?”

That was not the reason.

Again the _hanoum_ scrutinized my mother, from her hat to her
boots, and back again.

“Why is your mother dressed so sombrely? Is she a sad woman, or is her
master a stingy man?”

In very polite words my mother conveyed to her that European women did
not wear gaudy clothes in the streets. And little by little, with the
help of a child’s interpretation, the woman from the remote district
of Anatolia comprehended that her child was not dressed as a well-bred
European child would be.

Tears of mortification came into her eyes.

“To think,” she wailed, “that I, who love my only baby so dearly and
who have made for her a gown for every day of the month, should only
have contrived to make her ridiculous!”

“Oh, mother!” cried Nashan, “am I then dressed like a
_saltimbanque_, and not like a great lady?”

The mother folded her little one in her arms, kissed away her tears,
and tried to comfort her.

“My little Rose Petal, thy mother has made a mistake. She begs thee,
Seed of Glorious Roses, to forgive her. Say so, my little one; say that
thou forgivest thy ignorant mother.”

“I love my mother!” the child sobbed. “I love my mother!”

“Then dry thy tears, my little Petal; for the lady here will help us.”

With a humility perhaps only to be found among Turkish women, a
humility which yet was self-respecting and proud, the wife of the
powerful pasha placed herself entirely under the guidance of the wife
of a Greek.

This was the beginning of my friendship with Nashan. Thenceforth she
dressed in “sheeting,” and was educated in a scrupulously European
manner. Masters were engaged to teach her French and music. The
_hanoum_ accepted every bit of advice my mother gave her, save
one: she would not consent to a resident foreign governess.

“No,” she said, in her humble yet determined way, “I will not give
up my child entirely to a foreign woman. Her character belongs to
_me_, and by me alone it shall be moulded.”

Naturally I saw a great deal of Nashan, and we came to love each other
dearly. She had brought from Anatolia, along with her adorable little
face, something of the character of her untamed mountains. As we grew
from year to year, we used, child-like, to talk of many things we
little understood; and once she said to me: “I am sure of the existence
of Allah; for at times he manifests himself to me so quickly that I
believe he lives within me.”

At such moments as these I believe the real Nashan was uppermost.
Usually, I am sorry to say, she more and more lost her native
simplicity, with her acquirement of European culture, and more openly
despised the customs of her own country.

Her early velvet and satin gowns were given us to play with; and many a
rainy day we spent in adorning ourselves with her former gorgeousness.
Then Nashan would stand before me and humorously demand:

“Am I a great lady, or am I a _saltimbanque_?”



CHAPTER X

THE GARDEN GODDESS


It was natural that I should bring Nashan to Djimlah, and that she
should become the fourth of our group. Mechmet and his brother Shaadi
also often came to spend the day at Djimlah’s, and joined in our games.

Djimlah’s grandmother was desirous that we four girls should have
some of our lessons together, and my mother, from the distance, could
only acquiesce in this. Thus I saw them daily; and the more frequent
contact brought forth more frequent causes for warfare between us.
When they were all together, the fact of their being Turks became more
emphasized, and within me there burned the desire to dazzle them with
what the Greeks really had been in the world.

The way to do this came to me one night when sleep deserted me, and
in its stead Inspiration sat by my pillow. Since they knew absolutely
nothing of Greek History, I would tell it to them as a story.
Feverishly I sketched it all out in my head. I would begin at the
very beginning, showing them how Prometheus stole the divine fire to
create the Greeks. The Turks should come into the tale under the name
of Pelasgians--yes, I would call them Pelasgians, while the Greeks
should be called Prometheans. I could tell a story very well, at the
time, and I hugged my pillow fervently at the thought of my three
companions breathlessly listening to the recital of the great deeds of
the Greeks--and loathing the Turks for all their misdoings. And when
I had them properly moved, I should explain to them that this was not
a story, but real history: that the Prometheans were the Greeks, and
the Pelasgians were the Turks. And I should conclude: “You may call
yourselves the proud Osmanlis, and you may think that you are the
chosen people of Allah, but this is what history thinks of you--that’s
what you are to the world.”

I was so excited to begin my work that I slept no more that night. Yet
on the very next day I learned that my most inconsiderate parents had
decided to go for a few months to the Bosphorus. It always struck me
as the worst side of grown-ups that they never considered the plans of
the little ones. They will teach you, “It is not polite to interrupt
papa or mamma with your affairs when they are busy”--while papa or
mamma are only talking silly, uninteresting stuff which might very
well be interrupted. Yet how often, when I was intently watching a
cloud teaching me his art of transforming himself from a chariot to
an immense forest or from a tiger to a bevy of birds, mamma would
interrupt without even apologizing; and were I to say to her, “Just
wait a minute,” as mamma thousands of times said to me, I should be
called a rude little girl.

Thus it happened that, when my life’s work was unfolded before my eyes
by an inspiration, I was snatched away to that outlandish place, the
Bosphorus.

And there, about a quarter of a mile from the house we took, with
nothing between us but fields and gardens, lived a Turkish general and
his family. I do not recall his name, for every one spoke of him as the
Damlaly Pasha, which means “the pasha who has had a stroke.”

His was a modest house, surrounded by a garden, the wall of which had
tumbled down in one place, offering a possible means of ingress to a
small child of my activity. Some day I meant to avoid the vigilance of
the elders and to penetrate into the heart of that unknown garden; for
the opening was for ever beckoning to me. But, though I had not yet
been able to do so, I had already managed to peep into it; and had seen
a young woman who seemed to me the embodiment of a fairy queen picking
flowers there.

Every Friday morning the general went over to Constantinople, to ride
in the Sultan’s procession, as I afterwards learned. He wore his best
uniform, and his breast was covered with medals. A eunuch and a little
girl always accompanied him to the landing, and their way led past our
house.

Being lonely at the time, I took a great interest in the happenings
on our road, and I learned to wait every Friday morning for the queer
trio: the gorgeously uniformed and bemedalled old general, painfully
trailing his left foot; the old, bent eunuch, in a frock coat as old
and worn-out as himself, and the fresh little girl, with all her skirts
stuffed into a tight-fitting pair of trousers.

I thought her quite pretty, in spite of the ridiculous trousers. Her
hair was light, as is the colour of ripe wheat, and her eyes were as
blue as if God had made them from a bit of his blue sky. I nicknamed
her Sitanthy, and used to make up stories about her, and was always
wondering what her relationship was to the old general. Once I heard
her call him father, but I felt sure he could not be that. To my way
of thinking a father was a tall, slim, good-looking person. The other
species of men were either uncles, or grandfathers, or, worse yet, bore
no relationship to little girls, but were just so many stray men.

I never contemplated talking to the little girl--she was to me almost a
fictitious character, like one of the people I knew and consorted with
in our Greek Mythology--until fate brought us together.

One wonderful, mysterious, summer evening thousands of fireflies were
peopling the atmosphere. I had never seen so many before, and wanted to
stay up and play with them. But the tyranny of the elders decreed that
I should be put to bed at the customary hour, as if it had been any
ordinary night.

I believe few of the elders retain the powers of childhood--which see
far beyond the confines of the seen world--else why should they have
insisted on my leaving this romantic world outside, which was beckoning
me to join its revels?

However, they did put me to bed, and as usual told me to shut my eyes
tight and go to sleep. But shutting one’s eyes does not make one go
to sleep. On the contrary one sees many more things than before. The
beauty of the night had intoxicated me. I was a part of nature, and she
was claiming me for her own. There was a pond in our garden where frogs
lived. They, too, must have felt the power of to-night’s beauty; for
they were far more loquacious than usual. I listened to them for a long
time--and presently I understood that they were talking to me.

“Get up, little girl!” they were saying. “Get up, little girl!”

For hours and hours they kept this up, now softly and insinuatingly,
then swelling into loud command.

They ended by persuading me. I crept from my bed, put on my slippers,
threw over my nighty the pink little wrap with its silk-lined hood, and
went out on the balcony outside of my window. From there I slid down
one of the columns, and, before I knew it, was on the ground.

Supreme moment of happiness! I was free--free to revel in the wonders
of the night, free from vigilance and from orders. Clasping my wrap
closely around me, I first went to the pond, and told the frogs that I
was up.

“That’s right, little girl!” they answered me. “That’s right, little
girl!” But that was all they had to say to me, so I left them and gave
myself up to the deliciousness of being out of bed at an hour when all
well-regulated children should be in bed--according to the laws of the
elders.

The fireflies laughed and danced with me, twinkling in and out of
the darkness. They seemed like thousands of little stars, who, tired
of contemplating the world from heights above, like me had escaped
vigilance, and, deserting the firmament, had slid down to the earth to
play.

What a lot they had to say to me, these cheerful little sparks. On and
on we wandered together. They always surrounded me--almost lifting
me from the ground; and occasionally I succeeded in catching one and
sticking it on my forehead, till I had quite a cluster, so close
together that I must have looked like a cyclops, with one fiery eye in
the middle of my forehead.

We came into the fields where the daisies and poppies were sleeping
together, and passing through still another field, we arrived at the
place where the Damlaly Pasha lived. Then I knew that the opening in
the wall and the goddess had invited me to call on them that night.

Climbing over the opening was not an easy task, for my bedroom slippers
were soft, and the stones of the tumble-down wall were hard and sharp;
but I accomplished it. As for the fireflies, they had no difficulty:
they flew over the wall as if it were not there at all.

Inside, the sense of real exploration came over me. The garden was
old-fashioned, where the flowers grew in disorder, as they generally
do in Turkish gardens. How delicious was the perfume of the flowers.
I felt sure that, like me and the fireflies and the frogs and the
nightingales, the flowers here were awake--and not like the daisies and
poppies, who are sleepy-heads. But in vain did I look for my goddess.
She was not there.

Presently another little form came moving along through the bushes. We
met in the shrubbery. I pushed aside the branches, put my face through,
and in Turkish I said:

“Hullo, Sitanthy!”

“Hullo!” she answered, “What did you call me?”

“Sitanthy,” I replied. “That’s your name. I gave it to you. It is the
blue flower in the wheat--because you look like one of them.”

“That’s pretty,” Sitanthy commented. “And what is _your_ name?”

I told her.

“I know who you are,” she went on. “You are the solitary child, who
lives on the road to the landing, and who never plays.”

“I do play!” I cried.

“How can you? You are always sitting still.”

“I play most when I am most still.”

“Yours must be a funny game,” she observed “for when _I_ sit still
I go to sleep.”

Across the bushes we leaned and kissed each other. With her fingers
Sitanthy took hold of my cheeks and told me that she loved me.

“I have loved _you_ ever since we came to live here,” I said,
“because you are so pretty.”

“Are you pretty?” she inquired politely. “You have the largest eyes of
anyone in the world.”

“They are not really so large,” I corrected her. “They only look so,
because my face is little. I know it for a fact, because one day I
measured with a thread those of my father, and they were every bit as
large as mine.”

We linked arms and walked about the garden. She still wore her
ridiculous trousers.

“Didn’t they put you to bed?” I asked.

“No. I didn’t want to go--and I don’t go unless I want to.”

I stared at her in amazement. “And do the elders let you?”

She nodded.

“They put _me_ to bed every night--at the same hour,” I confided,
with great pity for myself.

She put her arm around me and kissed me, and though she said nothing I
knew that she felt the tragedy of this.

We plucked dew-soaked flowers together, talking all the time of those
things which belong to childhood alone; for children are nearer to the
world from which they have come, and when they meet, they naturally
talk of the things they remember, which the elders have forgotten--and
because they have forgotten, call unreal.

We caught some fireflies for her forehead, too, and thus we were two
cyclopses instead of one. I had to tell Sitanthy about them, for she
being a Turkish child knew nothing of them. Then I inquired about the
goddess of the garden; but Sitanthy only said that there was no young
woman in their house except their _halaïc_.

When I was ready to go, she let me out of the gate, and I started back
to my home. I was a little cold. A heavy dew was falling, and my
nighty was wet, and so was the flimsy pink wrapper. As for my slippers,
they became so soaked through that I discarded them in one of the
fields.

I meant to return to my bed as quietly as I had come out, but on
reaching our garden I knew that my escape had been discovered. A light
was burning in my bedroom, and other lights were moving to and fro in
the house, and there were lanterns in the garden.

I walked up to the nearest lantern. Happily it was in the hands of my
father.

To scare him I imitated the croak of a frog.

“Oh, baby!” he cried. “Oh, baby, where have you been?”

I confided my whole adventure to him, because of all the elders I have
known--except my brother, who was one of the immortals of Olympus--my
father seemed, if not to remember, at least to understand.

That night I was not scolded. The wet clothes were replaced by warm
ones, and I was only made to drink a disagreeable _tisane_. And
since, in spite of the _tisane_, I did catch cold and for two days
was feverish, I escaped even a remonstrance.

Yet my escapade had one lasting good result. It led to my friendship
with Sitanthy--and finally to the goddess of the garden.

On the following Friday, although I was still not quite well, I begged
to be permitted to sit by the window.

The trio for whom I was waiting came, but sooner than their customary
hour. From afar Sitanthy waved her little hand to me. Then instead
of passing by, as usual, all three came up to our house, and the old
general ceremoniously delivered a letter addressed to my father, who at
once came out, and accompanied them to the gate.

When my father returned, he said that on her way back the little girl
was to stay and play with me.

On this first visit, Sitanthy told me her history. She was the only
child of the only son of the old general and his _hanoum_. Her
father was killed in one of those wars, unrecorded by history, which
the sultan wages against his unruly subjects in remote, unmapped
corners of Asia. But, if these wars are not recorded by history, their
record is written with indelible ink in the hearts of the Turkish
women; for every one means the loss of brothers, fathers, husbands, and
sons, whose deaths are reported, if at all, long after they have been
laid away in unknown graves.

Sitanthy’s mother died from a broken heart, and thus my little friend
was all that remained to the old couple.

“I wear those trousers,” she explained, “to afford pleasure to my
grandparents. You see I’m only a girl, and it must break their hearts
to have a boyless home, so I saved all my pennies and bought these
trousers to give the household an air of possessing a boy.”

I hugged her, and never again thought of her trousers as ridiculous.

In the simple way Turkish children have, she also told me the
affairs of her home. The household consisted of her grandfather, her
grandmother, the old eunuch, a cook older than the eunuch, and a young
slave--the _halaïc_.

A _halaïc_ is a slave who is plain, and consequently cannot be
given in marriage to a rich husband; nor is she clever enough to become
a teacher; nor does she possess that grace and suppleness which might
make of her a dancing girl. Having thus neither mental nor physical
attributes, she becomes a menial.

She does all the coarsest work; and after seven years of servitude, if
she belongs to a generous master, she is either freed, with a minimum
dowry of two hundred and fifty dollars, or is given in marriage, with
a larger dowry, to one of the men servants in the retinue of the
household.

It is said that sometimes, if her master be either poor or cruel, he
sells her before her time expires, and thus she passes from house
to house--a beast of burden, because Allah has given her neither
cleverness, nor bodily beauty nor grace; and men cheat her of her
freedom and youth.

Thus, knowing exactly what a _halaïc_ was, I laughed at Sitanthy
when, in answer to my question about the goddess of her garden, she
replied: “It must be our _halaïc_--she is the only young woman in
our household.”

After I was entirely well again, I was permitted to go with Sitanthy
to play in her garden. I went with great expectations; for I hoped
that by daylight and with all the afternoon before me I could find out
something about my goddess.

On entering the garden, the first person I encountered was she--and
what I saw stabbed my heart. My goddess was harnessed to the
old-fashioned wooden water-wheel at the well, and with eyes shut was
walking round and round it, drawing up water.

We had a similar arrangement in our own garden, but it was a
blindfolded donkey who did the work--not a goddess.

She was dressed in a loose, many-coloured bright garment, held in at
the waist by a wide brass belt. A yellow veil was thrown over her head;
her bare arms were crossed on her breast, and bathed in the light of
that summer day, with eyes closed, she was doing this dreadful work,
without apparent shame, without mortification.

On the contrary, she seemed unaware of the degradation of her work. She
could not have looked more majestic or more beautiful had she been a
queen in the act of receiving a foreign ambassador. But I, who loved
her and called her my goddess, felt the shame and tears of rage sprang
to my eyes.

Saturated as I was with Greek mythology, there came to my mind the
thought of Danaë, daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos, and mother of
Perseus. Because she refused to listen to the love-words of the king
who received her, after her father exiled her, she was condemned to
similar work.

A great excitement seized me. I thought that the story I had read did
not belong to the past--that it was being enacted in that very place,
at that very hour, and before my own eyes. Nay, more! _I_ was a
Greek runner, ordered by the gods of Olympus to announce to her the
return of her son.

Possessed by the conviction, I rushed up to her, and stopped her in her
work.

“Hail to thee, Danaë!” I cried. “Perseus, your son, is coming, bringing
the head of Medusa, and with it he will turn into stone those who are
ill-treating you.”

She opened her eyes and gazed at me with a puzzled expression.

I repeated my words, my enthusiasm a trifle damped by her reception of
them.

When I had explained everything to her, and had given her every detail
of Danaë’s life and her son’s achievements a smile broke over her
face. Of all our visible signs, the soul comes nearest to speaking in
the smile. When the _halaïc_ smiled it was as if God were peeping
through the clouds.

“You adorable baby! You adorable Greek baby!” she laughed.

She unharnessed herself, and took me in her arms, holding me there as
a nest must hold a little bird. How comfy, how motherly her arms were.
She sat down on a stump and cuddled me in her lap; and I, pushing aside
her dress at the throat, kissed her where she was the prettiest.

“Why are you a _halaïc_?” I moaned. “Why do you have to be a
donkey--you who are beautiful as a Greek nymph?”

Her face softened, her eyes became misty, and her lips quivered, yet
remained wreathed in smiles. Silently she patted me, and I spoke again
of the cruelty of her position.

“Well, well, _yavroum_, you see the old people are very poor. They
have no money this month to engage a donkey, and the men on this place
are too old for such hard work. I am young and strong, so I do it.”

“But why are you a _halaïc_?” I repeated.

She laughed. “I am not exactly a _halaïc_, for I am a free woman.
I may go if I please--only I please to stay. The old _hanoum_
brought me up. I love her. She is old and poor. She needs me, and I
stay.”

Just then Sitanthy came out of the house, and claimed a part of the
lap that I was occupying, and there we both sat for awhile. But the
_halaïc_ had much to do, and presently we were sent off to play.

I questioned Sitanthy about her.

“She will pine away some day and die,” Sitanthy said.

My eyes grew larger. “Never!” I cried. “She is immortal.”

Sitanthy shook her head. “Oh, yes, she will; for her ailment is
incurable. Her heart is buried in a grave.”

In vain I begged for more explanations. With maddening precision
Sitanthy reiterated the same words. She had heard her grandmother say
this, and being a child of her race she accepted it as final. Her mind
received without stimulating her imagination. But I was a Greek child,
with a mind as alert, an imagination as fertile as hers were placid and
apathetic.

The _halaïc_ became the heroine of my daydreams. There was not
a tale which my brain remembered or concocted in which she did not
figure. My soul thirsted for knowledge of her affairs. They beckoned
to me as forcibly as had the tumble-down wall, and I meant some day to
penetrate her secrets.

She had said that the old _hanoum_ had brought her up, and that
the old _hanoum_ was very poor. That was one more reason why
she should have been given a great marriage. Any rich Turk would have
been willing to pay a fortune for such as she. In the East, we talk of
these things openly, as common occurrences; and since my intimacy with
Djimlah I had unconsciously learned a great deal about Turkish customs.

The affairs of the _halaïc_ quite absorbed me. I watched her
carefully. She never looked sad, or even tired. She performed her
menial duties as if they were pleasant tasks, like arranging flowers in
vases. She did everything, from being the donkey of the well to beating
the rugs, washing the linen, and scrubbing the floors.

In the early fall, toward sunset one day, I met her for the first time
outside the garden wall. I was being taken home to supper, and she
was mounting a hill leading to the forest of Belgrade. She passed me
without seeing me, her eyes on the horizon, a mysterious smile on her
lips.

My heart leaped at the radiance of her appearance. She was like the
embodiment of all the Greek heroines of myth and history. The wondrous
expression on her face so moved me that I had to sit down to keep my
heart from leaping from my breast.

“Come now, mademoiselle,” said the elder who was with me, “you know you
are already late for your supper.”

On any other occasion I should have kicked my governess, but the face
of the _halaïc_ had sobered me. Obediently I walked home, but I
did not eat much supper.

The next time I saw Sitanthy, I told her of my meeting with the
_halaïc_.

Sitanthy nodded. “She was going to her hour of happiness. She lives for
that hour. She has it from time to time.”

In vain I begged for more particulars. Sitanthy was the most Asiatic of
all the Turkish children I have known. She could tell me stories of her
world; but her world appeared to her as matter-of-fact and unromantic
as the world of the elders.

Whenever I saw the _halaïc_ she was lovely to me. She smothered me
with kisses, and she scolded me kindly whenever I needed it, which was
pretty often. But there was a patrician reserve about her which kept me
from questioning her.

She was tender, but at times cruel. She would laugh at things which
choked my throat with a big lump. Damlaly Pasha’s household was poor.
They lived on his pension, which was generally in arrears; for the
Oriental knows no fixed time, and the Turkish government is the most
oriental factor in their oriental lives.

There came days when the exchequer of the household was reduced to
small coins, which the hanoum kept tied in a knot in one of the corners
of her indoor veil. She always gave us a penny, when I visited
there; and Sitanthy and I would call the _simitzi_, passing by
with his wares on his head, and we would buy four of his delectable
_simit_, big enough to wear as bracelets--until we had eaten them.

Then came afternoons when we were given only a halfpenny, and each
of us had only one _simit_; and then there was a time when the
_hanoum_ had not even a halfpenny, and she wept because she could
not buy us _simit_. That was the day that the _halaïc_ was
cruel. She laughed at the sorrow of her mistress, and derided her; and
the old _hanoum_ was so mortified that she stopped crying at once.

It happened that one day I was taken suddenly ill while playing with
Sitanthy; and the old _hanoum_ sent word to my home, begging leave
to keep me in her house, in order that I should not be moved, and
imploring to be trusted.

It was the _halaïc_ who took care of me. She made up two little
beds, and slept herself between them. The old _hanoum_ brought
a brazier into the room, filled with lighted charcoal, and on it she
heated olive oil in a tin saucer. When it was very hot they took
off my nightgown, sprinkled dried camomiles all over me; and the
_halaïc_, dipping her hands into the scorching oil, began to rub
me. She rubbed and rubbed, till I screamed, and was limp as a rag. But
I fell into refreshing slumber immediately afterwards.

When I awoke, dripping with perspiration, the _halaïc_ was
changing my nightgown. Then she put me into the other little bed, which
was warm and dry.

Some hours later, I again awoke, and saw the _halaïc_ moving about
the room on tiptoe. She threw a cloak over her shoulders, and, with the
caution of a cat about to lap forbidden milk, stole out of the room.

I sat up in my bed and wondered what she was doing. Then I arose and
went to the window. The last quarter of the moon lighted the garden,
and distinctly I saw the _halaïc_ disappearing into a group of
cypresses.

In an instant I wrapped a shawl around me, and went down after her.
When I next caught sight of her she did not move like a cat any more.
She held in each hand a lighted candle, home-made and aromatic, and she
was going in and out among the trees, as if she were playing a game,
and all the time mumbling something that seemed to be a rhyme.

Then she crouched low on the ground and exhorted Allah to be merciful
and forgive her her--. It was a word I did not understand, and the next
day I had forgotten it.

After a time she rose, put the ends of the lighted candles between her
lips, went to the well, and drew water from it with a small tin cup
tied to a string.

She watered all the trees of this clump, counting the drops as they
fell: “_Bir, iki, utch, dort, besh, alti, yedi._” On the seventh
she always stopped, and went on to the next tree. She did all the
counting without dropping the lighted candles from her mouth--which was
very hard, for I tried it a few days later.

After the watering was ended, she blew out the candles, fell prone on
the earth, and begged Allah, the Powerful, Allah, the Almighty, to
forgive her. She wailed and wept, and told Allah over and over that
she was doing everything according to his bidding, for the sake of his
forgiveness.

Hidden in the shrubbery close by, I wondered what could be the crime of
that radiant creature, who had enthralled and captivated my imagination.

At length she rose, and danced a weird dance to the mouse-eaten looking
moon, in turn beseeching her:

“Queen of the Night, Guardian of Womanly Secrets, Mother of Silent
Hours--intercede for me--help me!”

She danced on and on, till she was quite worn out, and fell on the
ground weeping.

I could endure no more; besides my teeth were chattering, and all the
aches that were so especially my own took possession of my frail body
again. I came out of my hiding-place to where the _halaïc_ lay.

She looked up at me bewildered. Then she rose on her knees, and touched
me with her fingers, as if to ascertain that I were a living child. She
peered into my face through the tears in her eyes--and I, quite afraid
now, said not a word.

At length she broke the silence.

“Is that you, Greek baby?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Who sent you here?”

“Nobody. I came.”

She extended her palms upward. Her face took on one of her mystic
smiles.

“Allah,” she said softly. “Allah, thou forgivest me, the unworthy.”

For a long time she prayed to that power whom she called Allah, and I
knew to be God. When her prayers were at an end, she gathered me to her
heart, and kissed me with love and fervent exaltation; and thus carried
me into the house.

Again she rubbed me with hot oil, and in order to warm me better she
took me into her bed, and I slept, held fast in her arms.

The next day I must have been quite ill, and she never left me; for
every time I opened my eyes she was there, crouching by me, wearing
her radiant smile, which would have coaxed any truant soul to return
to earth. At any rate it coaxed mine, which came again, though
reluctantly, to inhabit my poor little body.

On the first day that I really felt better and could sit up, I took
advantage of her devoted attendance to question her.

“What have you done so monstrous and wicked, which Allah must forgive
you?”

After a moment’s thought, she answered me, simply and directly.

“I gave not myself to a man, as Allah ordains that every woman should
do, and I have given no children to multiply the world.”

For hours I puzzled over these words; but in the end I did get at their
meaning. New vistas, new horizons opened to my brain. What she meant,
of course, was that she was not married.

In the middle of that night I awoke--and I woke her too. I sat up in
bed, determined to ask, till all was told to me.

“Then why don’t you marry?” I demanded peremptorily.

“Now, _yavroum_, you go to sleep. You are only a baby, and you
cannot understand.”

“I’m not a baby!” I cried. “I know heaps and heaps of things, and if
you don’t tell me, I shall not go to sleep--and what is more I shall
uncover myself and catch my death of cold. So please tell me why you
don’t marry.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“Because he whose children I should have been happy to bear is for ever
buried, beyond that hill, in the forest of Belgrade.”

“That cannot be,” I said sceptically, “there is no cemetery there.”

“No, _yavroum_,” she said softly, “but he lies there; for I buried
him.”

Through the curtainless windows the stars were lending us light. The
face of the _halaïc_ shone sweet and tender, full of womanly charm
and loveliness. My little hand slipped into hers. Who shall deny that
we have lived before, that each little girl has been a woman before?
Else why should I, a mere child, have understood this grown-up woman;
and why should she, a woman, have thus spoken to me?

There we sat, our mattresses on the floor, as near to each other as
possible, holding each other’s hands while the stars were helping us to
see--and perhaps to understand.

“Like you, he was a Greek, and like you he said things about nymphs
and goddesses. He said that I was one of them, and he loved me. Some
day soon I was to be his. But in our household then there was another
man who vowed that no infidel should possess me. We were living at
the time over the hill, in the outskirts of the forest of Belgrade.
One night when the moon was at its waning, like the night you saw me
in the garden, that man killed my lover. I buried him myself--in the
forest of Belgrade--and, have tended his grave for these seven years.
I do everything to please Allah, and I never complain. To avert the
punishment which is allotted in the other world to the women who have
not done his will, I exhort him, according to the prescribed magics.
It is said that if during these rites, some time, a child should come,
it is Allah himself who sends it, to show that he understands and
forgives--and you came, _yavroum_, the other night.”

She bent over and kissed me gratefully.

“I shall work all my life for nothing, doing everything to help
others, in the hope that when I die, I shall be made very young and
very beautiful and shall be given to the lord, my lover. And maybe,
_yavroum_,” she added, almost in a whisper, “I may have a baby
like you--for you are a Greek baby, and he was a Greek.”

I cuddled very close to her and kissed her, my arms wound around her
neck, and went to sleep.

After that I no longer minded her being a _halaïc_, and even
at times being the donkey. For wherever I saw her, and in whatever
occupation, her background was always the Elysian fields. There she
walked in the glory of her beauty, and in company with her Greek lover.



CHAPTER XI

MISDEEDS


I did miss Djimlah and Chakendé and Nashan, yet the _halaïc_ made
up for a great deal, and what is more, knowing now that some day she
would go to heaven and meet her Greek lover, I was telling _her_
the Greek history, or rather that part of the Greek history where the
Greeks were intermarrying with the gods.

It is a pity that the world should be so large, and that we should
have to go from place to place, leaving behind those we have learned
to love. When the time arrived for me to go back to the island, I wept
copiously. I did so mind leaving behind Sitanthy and especially the
_halaïc_. She, however, in spite of the sorrow she felt at bidding
me good-bye, kept on saying: “Think, _yavroum_, you might never
have come, and that would have been far worse. Besides we must submit
to Allah’s will gladly, and not weep and show him our unwillingness to
obey.”

It is three hours from the Bosphorus to the islands, by going from the
Bosphorus to Constantinople, and from Constantinople to the islands.
Tears kept on coming to my eyes from time to time, while the boat
was steaming on; yet no sooner did I get a glimpse of our own island
and our own pine trees than I forgot the _halaïc_ and Sitanthy
and my sorrow, and in spite of the people on the boat I burst forth
into a loud song of joy. I was never any good at tune, and there was
little difference between my singing and the miauling of a cat; yet
whenever I was particularly happy I had to express it by song, and only
a peremptory order would stop me. And while I sang, looking at the
island, I was only thinking of the three playmates I was to see, and
the _halaïc_ and Sitanthy were forgotten, as if they had never
existed. My thoughts were on the three, and on the pleasure they would
experience when they saw me returning to them--as indeed they did.

That year was a memorable one in our lives, because it was the last
in which my three playmates would be permitted to go uncovered, and
play with children of both sexes. They were now nearing the age at
which little Turkish girls become women, must don the tchir-chaff
and yashmak, hide themselves from the world and prepare for their
womanhood. I was, of course, always to continue seeing them and
visiting them, but they could no longer enjoy the freedom they had
enjoyed up to now--now that they were to become women.

I found all three deep in the study of foreign languages. In the
spring of that year Djimlah’s grandmother decided that it would be
very good for the three Turkish girls to go twice a week and spend the
morning at Nizam, where all the European children congregated. She
wanted Djimlah to see as much of the European world as possible before
she was secluded. It was thus that we all four, accompanied by our
French teacher, went to the pine forest of Nizam. We did not like this
as much as staying at home and playing by ourselves; but the old hanoum
was quite insistent, and for the first time made us do what she thought
best.

It interfered greatly with my scheme of introducing my companions to
the wonders of Greek history, because now that I was a little older
my mother refused to let me spend the nights with Djimlah, and since
our time was quite filled with studies the only hours we had for
story-telling were those in which we had to mingle with other children.

However, it was interesting, and the different acquaintances we made
taught us a lot of games we should never have thought of by ourselves.
I cannot say that we liked our new acquaintances particularly, at any
rate we did not love any of them. They were mostly silly, we thought,
and the English girls were stiff and we did not care for the way they
spoke French. Besides most of them had large protruding teeth, which
we thought very unbecoming to girls. We used to call them Teeth.

It was there in the pines that we met Semmeya Hanoum. She was
much older than any of us, and she ought to have been wearing the
_tchir-chaff_, and to have been living in the seclusion of the
_haremlik_; but her people were not very orthodox, and Semmeya had
a way of her own of getting what she wanted, and what she wanted just
then was not to be secluded.

We never quite made up our minds about her. We had days when we knew
we did not like her, for we did not consider her honourable. She would
rather cheat at games than play fair, and she would always tell a fib
to get out of a disagreeable predicament. Again there were days when we
almost loved her for she was very fascinating.

That year we were particularly unfortunate in doing things we ought
not to have done. In many of these--until Semmeya brought her clever
mind to bear--we seemed hopelessly entangled. For example, when we
stole grapes from a vendor who had fallen asleep. We did not mean to
steal: we only thought of how wonderfully exciting it was to walk up on
tip-toe, reach the grapes, get a bunch, and slip away without awakening
the vendor. Semmeya and Djimlah and Chakendé and I accomplished it
successfully. As Nashan was reaching for a bunch she slipped--and the
man awoke!

We did not know what would have happened to us--as we talked it over
afterwards--we thought we should probably have been taken to prison to
spend our young lives there, without light or air. We were only saved
from that dreadful fate by Semmeya’s inventiveness.

Nashan stood there, petrified, staring at the vendor. Djimlah hid her
face on my shoulder; I was trying to hide behind Chakendé; and Chakendé
was trembling all over.

Semmeya walked straight up to the man and said to him proudly:

“A vendor who has something to sell must _never_ go to sleep. We
wanted some grapes, and of course we had to have them, and naturally we
took them. Now, how much do we owe you, vendor?”

The man was entirely apologetic, and begged to be forgiven. He said,
since we were four, it would make about an _oka_ of grapes, and he
would let us have them for four _paras_. I knew he was cheating
us in asking four pennies. By no possibility could we have taken an
_oka_.

Having paid him we walked away with our heads high, but I trembled, and
I know Djimlah did, too, for her arm in mine was shaking.

We spoke then of our feelings and of the awful thing that happened to
our hearts when the man opened his eyes. Djimlah wept at the thought
of being caught as a thief. “Why did we do it, _yavroum_?” she
kept on wailing to me; “why did we do it?”

“I don’t know why we did it,” I replied, nor did I know then why we
kept on getting into scrapes, from the consequences of which Semmeya
always saved us. I know now that every bit of devilry we perpetrated
was at her instigation.

While we were not conscious of her evil influence, and were fully
grateful to her for saving us, yet we always mistrusted her; and once
in despair we came together and debated how to tell her that we did not
care to have her for a friend any more.

Nashan then gravely remarked: “We must remember that without her
several times we should have been compelled to die.”

This we acknowledged to be true, and resolved still to bear with her.
Moreover, Semmeya was a remarkable story-teller, and on rainy days,
when we could not play outdoors, we would congregate in one house and
Semmeya would hold us enthralled with a fabrication of her imagination.
She could thrill us or make us laugh, at will, and was the undisputed
queen of rainy days.

Just the same, we never felt that she was quite one of us--even I who
was much more under her spell than the others. We came to know that
whenever she wanted anything she was going to get it, and that some
one else would pay for it.

“It is her Greek blood that makes her so,” Chakendé said one noon; then
looked up at me in fear; but at these words Djimlah declared that it
was time to pray, and they all fell on their knees, facing Mecca. They
knew I would not attack them while they were praying, and they made
their devotions long enough for my anger to cool somewhat.

The legend about her Greek blood was that her grandmother had been
taken from the island of Cyprus, when a baby, and sold into a
_haremlik_. Semmeya told us that only after she was married and
had children did her grandmother learn that she was a Greek; and then
she hanged herself from despair. Perhaps this matter of the Greek
grandmother helped to make Semmeya dear to me, although now, as I look
back upon it all, I think it was because instinctively I understood a
little of the curse of temperament, and poor Semmeya had a large share
of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following year Semmeya was married, and three days before her
wedding we were invited to see her trousseau, and to be feasted and
presented with gifts. We had reached the age when we began to talk of
love and marriage in tones of awe, with the ignorance of children and
the half-awakened knowledge of womanhood. And, after we came away from
her, we put our heads together and whispered our hope that her husband
would never find out what we knew about her character.



CHAPTER XII

HOW I WAS SOLD TO ST GEORGE


Shortly after Semmeya’s wedding an epidemic of typhoid fever swept
over Constantinople. Owing to our unsanitary drainage conditions such
epidemics were not rare. All four of us had the fever. With me it was
so acute, and lasted so long, that the doctors gave me up as a sickly
child who had not the strength to battle for health. My lengthy illness
left me alive, it is true, but as a fire leaves standing a structure
which it has completely destroyed within. Apparently there remained
nothing solid to build on. The doctors intimated as much when they said
I might eat and do what pleased me--and went away.

To them I was only a hopeless patient. It was different with my mother:
she would not give up the fight.

In her despair, and when science failed her, she turned to what in
reality she always had more faith in--her religion, and particularly
her favourite saint, St George of the Bells. Him she had inherited
from the paternal side of her family, of which he had been--shall I
say--the idol, for more than two hundred years.

I did not share her predilection. My own particular saint was St
Nicholas, even then when I was beginning to take pride in my critical
attitude toward religion. Looking back, and raising the veil from my
once ardent devotion, I must admit that my partiality originated in a
life-size icon, painted by a celebrated Russian, and presented by the
Russian church to the monastery of St Nicholas, where I used to go for
my devotions. I was only four years old when the icon was sent, but I
fell an immediate victim to its beauty. Had it represented St Gregory
or St Aloysius, my devotion would have been the same. It is always thus
with us: scratch a Greek and you will find a pagan.

However, when my mother told me that she was going to send for St
George of the Bells, I raised no objection. I knew enough of his deeds
to have a respectful fear of him. Among the orthodox Greeks, especially
among those who, like us, lived on the sea of Marmora, to send for a
saint is an awe-inspiring act. One does not have recourse to it except
as a last resort. It is, moreover, an expense that few can afford,
though I have known poor Greek families to sell even their household
effects to have the saint brought to them.

From the moment that it was decided the saint should be sent for,
our house was in a tumult of cleaning. My room especially was made
immaculate, and I was put into my finest nightgown. No coquette was
ever more carefully arrayed for the visit of a handsome young doctor
than I was for the saint. A large table, covered with a new white
cloth, was placed near my bed. On it was an incense-burner, flowers,
and a bowl of water--to be blessed, and used to bathe my face so long
as it should last.

Two men, for their strength and size called _pallikaria_, had
gone for the icon. St George of the Bells, though on the same island
with us, had his monastery up on the highest summit of the mountains,
several miles from our house. In order to receive the saint with proper
ceremony my mother sent for the parish priests. They arrived shortly
before the icon, dressed in their most festive robes of silver thread,
and with their long curls floating over their shoulders.

The _pallikaria_ arrived, bearing the saint, and preceded by a
monk from his monastery. When they brought him into my room, though
I was very weak, I was raised from my bed and placed at the foot of
the icon. It was quite large, and painted on wood. The face alone was
visible: all the rest had been covered with gold and silver, tokens
of gratitude from those whom the saint had cured. Rings, ear-rings,
bracelets, and other jewellery were also hanging from the icon, while
hundreds of gold and silver bells were festooned about it.

My room was filled with the members of my family, and a few of the most
intimate and pious of our friends. Candles were lighted, and mass was
solemnly sung. Afterwards everybody went away, and I was left to the
care of St George of the Bells.

Owing to the distance, the icon and the monk could not return to the
monastery the same day, and were to spend the night at our house. I was
then twelve years old, and as I have said, beginning to be sceptical of
the religious superstitions about me. Yet the ceremony had impressed
me deeply; and in the solemn hours of the night, with only the light
of the _kandilla_ burning before the icon, a certain mysticism
took possession of me. I was shaken out of my apathy, and believed that
St George could save me, if he wanted to, and if I prayed to him--and
pray I did, too, most fervently, though I should have been ashamed to
confess it after the daylight brought back to me my juvenile pride in
being a sceptic.

In the morning, when the _pallikaria_ came to fetch the icon, one
of the powerfully built creatures, a man whose hair was already growing
white about the temples, approached my bedside and said with great
solemnity:

“_Kyria, mou_, he means to cure you. I have not carried him for
twenty years without learning his ways. Why, when we went to take him
from his place he fairly flew to our arms. I know what that means. You
will get well, for he wanted to come to you. Sometimes he is so heavy
that we can hardly carry him a mile an hour--and I have known him to
refuse to be moved at all.”

The old _pallikari_ was right. St George did cure me. In a few
months I was stronger than I had ever been in my life. It was then
that my mother--partly out of gratitude, partly in order that he might
continue to look after me--resolved to sell me to St George.

For three days she and I fasted. Early on the morning of the fourth day
we started, barefooted, for the mountains and St George’s monastery,
carrying wax torches nearly as tall as I. At first I was ashamed to
meet people in my bare feet, until I noticed with elation that they all
reverently uncovered their heads as we passed.

It was a long, weary walk. Up the mountains it seemed as if we were
climbing for heaven. The road zigzagged steeply upward, now revealing,
now hiding the monastery from our eyes. At last we reached the huge
rocks that surrounded it like a rampart.

Everything was ready for our arrival. The _Hegoumenos_, the head
monk, received us. I was taken to a little shrine, bathed in holy
water, and put to bed, after receiving some _soupe-maigre_; for I
was to fast three days longer. My little bed was made up on the marble
floor of the church. At night, another was arranged beside it for my
mother, since I could not be induced to sleep alone in the church.

During the three days spent in the mountains I forgot completely that
I was a person holding advanced ideas, and that I did not believe in
superstitions. There was something in the atmosphere of the place which
forbade analysis and called only for devotion.

My mother and I were the only persons who slept in the church. There
were a number of insane patients in the monastery itself. St George
of the Bells is renowned for the number of cures of insanity which he
effects. The head monk, as a rule, is a man of considerable education
and shrewdness, with no mean knowledge of medicine. The insane patients
are under his care for forty days, with the grace of St George. They
practically live out of doors, take cold baths, dress lightly, and eat
food of the simplest. In addition to this they received mystic shocks
to help on their recovery, and, I believe, usually regain their mental
equilibrium.

While I was staying at the monastery a young man was brought there from
Greece. He was a great student of literature, and very dissipated. The
two combined had sent him to St George. He was a handsome fellow, with
long white hands, and a girlish mouth. He was permitted to go about
free, and I met him under the arcade of the monastery, declaiming a
passage from Homer. When his eyes met mine, he stopped and addressed me.

“I am coming from Persia, and my land is Ithaca. I am Ulysses, the
king of Ithaca.” Then he threw out his hands toward me and screamed,
“Penelope!”

One may imagine that I was frightened, but before I had time to answer,
he burst into a peal of laughter, and exclaimed:

“Why, you are Achilles, dressed in girl’s clothes. But you will come
with us to fight, will you not?”

Much to my relief a monk came up and said, “Don’t stay here and listen
to him. It only excites him.”

I became quite interested in the young man after this, and later
learned that when his forty days were at an end, by a sign St George
intimated that he was to remain longer; and a few months later the
young man returned to his country entirely cured.

There was one of the monks, Father Arsenius, who was as devout as my
mother. To him I really owe all my pleasure while in the monastery. He
was an old man, but strong and active. He took me every day for rambles
about the mountains, and never would let me walk uphill. He would pick
me up and set me on his shoulder, as if I were a pitcher of water, and
then, chanting his Gregorian chants, we would make the ascents. One
day we were sitting on one of the big rocks surrounding the monastery.
Miles below we could see the blue waters of the Marmora, and far beyond
it the Asiatic coast of Turkey. The air was filled with the smell of
the pine forest below. Father Arsenius had been telling me of the
miracles performed by St George.

“It is curious, Father Arsenius,” I commented, “that they should
have built the monastery so high up. It is so difficult to get to,
especially when one comes on foot, the way we did. How did they think
of building it up here?”

“No one thought of it. The saint himself chose this spot. Don’t you
know about it, little one?”

I shook my head.

Father Arsenius’s face changed, and there came into it the light which
made him look almost holy. In a rapt tone he began: “It was years ago,
in the fifteenth century, when a dream came to one of our monks, a holy
man, chosen by the saint to do his bidding.”

He crossed himself three times, raised his eyes to the blue above, and
for some seconds was lost in his dreams.

“The saint appeared to our holy monk and said: ‘Arise and follow me,
by the sound of a bell, over land and sea, till the bell shall cease to
ring. There dig in the earth till you find my icon; and on that spot
build a chapel, and spend your life in worshipping me.’

“Three times the vision came to the monk; then he arose, went to his
superior, and with his permission started on his pilgrimage. As soon
as he left the monastery he heard the sound of the bell, and following
it he travelled for months, over land and sea, until he came to this
island. Here the sound of the bell became louder, until finally it
stopped. On that spot he began to dig----”

“On what spot?” I interrupted.

“Down by the little chapel, where now the holy spring oozes forth.
There the monk found the icon, and with it in his arms went about
begging for money to build the chapel.”

“He must have been a very powerful man if he carried that icon about,”
I commented, “for now it takes two _pallikaria_ to lift it.”

Father Arsenius smiled his kind, fatherly smile. “My little one,
when our saint wants to, he can make himself as light as a feather.
After the monk had collected sufficient money he went to the Turkish
authorities and asked permission to build his chapel. The Turks had
just conquered Constantinople, and we had to ask permission for
everything at that time. The pasha to whom the monk applied refused
him, saying that there were already churches enough.”

Father Arsenius’ face, as he spoke, was no longer holy. He looked a
Greek, boiling for a fight. Gradually his features regained their calm
and he smiled at me, as he continued:

“That night St George came to the monk in his dreams and bade him start
building without permission of the Turks. In the morning the monk
climbed the mountain, and with the help of two other monks began his
work. Ah! but I should like to have been that monk,” Father Arsenius
cried--but he would not permit his soul even the envy of a holy deed,
and humbly added: “Thy will be done, saint.”

“Didn’t the Turks interfere any more?” I asked.

“Yes, they did, my little one. While the work was in progress they
heard of it, and sent word to the monk to stop it. He replied that he
obeyed higher orders than theirs. The pasha was furious, and set out
himself for the island, swearing he would hang the monk from his own
scaffolding.

“But he reckoned without St George. At that time there were no roads
on the island, not even a path leading up here. The pasha and his
followers became lost in the woods, and had to spend the night, hungry
and thirsty, under the pine trees. In the middle of the night the
pasha woke up, struggling in the grip of St George. He cried out to
his companions. They were tied to the trees. St George beat the pasha
with the flat of his sword until he was tired. Then he commanded him
to fall on his knees and promise to permit the chapel to be built. The
terrified Turk did as he was ordered, and, of his own accord, promised
to give money to build a large monastery, and he kept his word.”

Father Arsenius looked at me with a humorous twinkle in his eyes, and
I laughed aloud to hear how the Greek saint had got the better of the
Turkish pasha.

“I have been here for fifty years now,” Father Arsenius went on
presently; “and my wish is to die in the service of my saint.”

“Do you think that when I am sold to him, he will take care of me?” I
asked.

“I do not think so--I know so. His power is omnipotent; and his
kindness to people is wonderful. When there is any mortal disease among
them, he leaves here, goes out and fights for them.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I hear him go, and come back.”

I was overwhelmed. No trace of scepticism or unbelief remained in me.

“Is he here now?” I asked, in the same mystic tone as the monk.

He shook his head. “He left here just before the cholera broke out in
Constantinople.”

“But the cholera is over now.”

“Yes, I am expecting him back at any minute.”

“How do you hear him come and go?” I asked, unwonted fear of the
supernatural conquering me.

“You will hear him, too, if he returns before you go. Everything in the
church moves and shakes when he leaves it or re-enters it.”

“But if he should not come back while I am here, how can I be sold to
him?”

“That does not matter,” Father Arsenius reassured me. “He will know of
it when he comes back--though I think that sometimes when people are
not cured, it is because he is far away, and his grace does not reach
them.” He bowed his head. “I have given my heart to him, and he has
purified it. I am his slave, and shall be so for life.”

“I will be his slave, too,” I put in eagerly. Had I been asked at that
moment to become a nun, I should have done so gladly, such was the
influence Father Arsenius had over me.

He rose. “Come, little one, let us go.”

I put my little hand into his big, hard one--he was also the gardener
of the monastery--and together we walked through the _koumaries_
with which the mountain was covered. These are evergreen bushes,
which at a certain season bear fruit like cherries, which have an
intoxicating effect. Strangers, not understanding this, are sometimes
found helpless beneath the lovely bushes.

As we came near the monastery Father Arsenius shaded his eyes with his
hand and gazed over toward the mountain ridge beyond.

“The wind is rising. It will be very high to-night,” he said.

The conversation with the monk had put me into a deep religious
fervour. I fell asleep that night in the church, and dreamed of the
monk who had travelled over land and sea, following the sound of a bell.

How long I slept I cannot tell when I awoke in terror. I sat up and
peered around by the dim light of the _kandillas_ burning before
the icons of the various saints. The large glass candelabra hanging
from the ceiling were swaying to and fro, jingling their crystals,
producing a ghastly sound. The bells on St George’s icon were tinkling;
two or three windows slammed, and there was a rushing sound through the
church. It all lasted only a short time, and then quietness returned.

My mother awoke, though she was not so light a sleeper as I. “What is
it?” she asked startled.

“It is St George coming back,” I answered.

We both fell to praying, and I did not sleep any more that night. And
my heart was filled with pride that I had heard the coming of the saint.

At the end of my three days’ fast, mass was celebrated, and then my
mother presented me to the _Hegoumenos_.

“I wish my daughter to become the saint’s slave,” she said.

“For ever?” he asked. “If so, she cannot marry.”

“No; until her marriage. Yearly I will pay the saint a pigskin full of
oil and a torch as tall as she is. At her marriage I will ransom her
with five times this, and with five _medjediés_ in addition.”

The monk took me in his arms and raised me up so that I could kiss the
icon. Then he cried, in a voice so full of emotion that it made my
devout mother weep:

“My Saint, unto thee I give the keeping of this child!”

From the icon he took a silver chain, from which hung a little bell,
and placed it round my neck.

“You are now St George’s slave,” he continued. “Until you return and
hang this with your own hands on the icon it must never leave you.”

I kissed his hand, and the ceremony was over. We paid what we owed, and
left the monastery and good Father Arsenius with the assurance that a
power from above was having especial watch over me.

From that time on my mother gave her yearly tribute, and the saint
kept his word to look after me.

Although when I was married I was in America and my mother was in
Russia, she did not fail to pay the ransom which made it possible for
me to change masters without angering the saint. In place of the little
silver chain and bell, which I could not return personally, she gave a
gold one.

As I write I can see the badge of my former slavery where it hangs
around a little old Byzantine icon in my room. I have never been
separated from it. During the whole of my girlhood I wore it; and when
I was in a convent school in Paris it gave me a certain distinction
among my mystified companions, who could hear it tinkle whenever I
moved.

Asked about it, I only said that it was the badge of my slavery.
This gave rise to a variety of stories, invented by their Gallic
imaginations, in which I, with my bell, was the heroine.

As I look at it now, it reminds me of the three days spent with St
George--the three days during which sensuous mysticism completely
clouded my awakening intelligence.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MASTER OF THE FOREST


On our return from the monastery we had the great joy of finding my
brother at home, back that very day from Europe. I was so delighted I
could hardly sit still. My happiness was dashed to the ground, when,
in the course of the next half hour, he remarked that he must leave
us in a few days to see the Bishop of Xanthy. I was speechless with
disappointment until my mother said:

“Oh! that is lucky. The little one needs a complete change to become
quite herself again. She can go with you.”

Thus it was quickly settled, and a few days later we set off. The first
part of the journey was like any other. We went to Constantinople and
took a train, which, after due deliberation, started, and in due time
again--or rather, not in due time--reached Koumourtzina. There began
what seemed to me our real journey, for we were now to travel entirely
on animal-back.

We started on mules, in the afternoon, and rode for three hours at a
smart trot. In front of us lay the forest of Koumourtzina. Geography
has always been a closed science to me, so I have no idea where this
is, except that it is somewhere in Turkish territory, and on the way to
Xanthy.

It was near nightfall. We took a short rest at a small village, ate a
hearty meal, exchanged the mules we had been riding for horses, and
started out to cross the forest. There was a silvery moonlight over all
the landscape, and the lantern which our guide carried, as he walked
in front of the horses, blinded us more than it helped us. We asked
to have the light put out, but the _kouroudji_, who was also the
owner of the horses we were riding, insisted on the lighted lantern as
part of the convention of the forest.

My saddle was made of camel-bags, filled with blankets and clothes, and
the motion of the horse was smooth and soporific. I became drowsy from
the long day’s ride, and now and then stretched myself in the saddle.

In the very heart of the forest my horse reared so unexpectedly that
had it not been for the vast pillowy saddle I should have been thrown
to the ground. My brother’s horse not only reared but whirled about
like a leaf in a storm. The _kouroudji_ seized the bridle of my
horse and patted and spoke to him, while my brother, who was a very
good horseman, managed to calm his own mount somewhat, and to keep him
headed in the direction we wished to go.

“What is it?” I asked the _kouroudji_. “Why are they behaving like
this?”

The Turk turned to my brother. “The effendi knows?”

“I’m afraid I do. They smell blood.”

“So they do, Bey Effendi. It is not the first time this accursed forest
has been the grave of men. _Allah kerim!_”

He took hold of the bridles of both horses, and spoke to them in
endearing terms. There is an understanding between Turks and horses as
touching as the friendship between them and dogs.

From a monotonous and tedious journey, our ride, of a sudden,
had become most exciting. Although the horses now followed the
_kouroudji_ obediently, they whinnied from time to time, and
shivered.

“Don’t be frightened,” said my brother to me, “and whatever happens
keep your head, and don’t scream. Screaming will do no good, and it may
lead to mishandling.”

“But can’t we go back, Mano?” I asked.

“We shall gain nothing by trying to. If a murder has been committed, we
may come upon the corpse. If it is something else, we are already in
the trap.”

Before I had time to ask him what he meant by this, a shot was fired
over our heads, and, simultaneously, a number of forms emerged from the
forest.

We were surrounded, and several dark lanterns flashed upon us.

“Halt! Hands up!”

“All right!” said my brother.

Five men glided close to us, and I saw three pistols pointing at
us. I could now see our captors distinctly. They had on the Greek
_foustanella_, white, accordion-pleated skirts, stiff-starched,
reaching to the knees. Below they wore gaiters ending in the
_tsarouchia_, or soft-pointed shoes. Their graceful little jackets
were worn like capes, with the empty sleeves flapping. The Greek fez
with its long black tassel completed their picturesque costume.

I do not know whether Greek brigands are really any better than
Bulgarian or Turkish ones, but the sight of their Hellenic costume
lessened my fears considerably. It sounds very silly, but my warm and
uncritical patriotism embraced all Greeks--even brigands. Impulsively I
cried out:

“_Yassas, pallikaria!_” (Health to you, men!)

The brigand next me, whose large brown hand was on the neck of my
horse, laughed.

“_Yassu, kera mou!_” (Health to thee, my lady!)

“What is it all about, _pallikaria_?” my brother asked.

“The master of the forest, hearing of your passing through, claims his
privilege of making you his guest awhile.” The man laughed at his own
pleasantry. “Will you dismount of your own accord, or shall we lend you
our assistance?”

“Considering that you are five, and we are only two, and a half--” My
brother had a philosophic way of accepting the inevitable.

“We are more than five,” remarked one of the men, pointing behind him
into the forest with his thumb.

“You are plenty, in any case,” returned my brother, dismounting. He
helped me from my horse. In French he said:

“There is a mistake. It is a long time since you and I possessed enough
to attract these gentlemen; but be polite and friendly to them.”

The brigands ordered the _kouroudji_--who also accepted the whole
occurrence with philosophic calm--to proceed to Xanthy and report that
his charges were captured by brigands, who would shortly communicate
with their relatives.

“Will he really travel for two days, just to carry that message?” my
brother asked with curiosity.

“Crossing this forest is his business. He knows that, if he does not do
as we say, this forest will become his grave.”

Paying the _kouroudji_, my brother bade him good-bye, and two of
the brigands conducted him off.

They had told us the truth when they said there were others in the
woods, for presently many more came up, and, with somewhat sardonic
humour, bade us welcome.

“We are sorry to have to blindfold you,” said one, and took a big red
pocket-handkerchief from his pocket, which he began to fold on the
bias, for my eyes.

“Please, _pallikari_, do you mind using _my_ handkerchief?” I
asked.

“If it will please you, _kera mou_.”

I handed him my handkerchief.

“_Ma!_ that’s too small.”

“Can’t you use two together?” I asked, giving him another.

He took them and tied the ends together, then slipped the bandage over
my eyes, while another held up the lantern for him to see by.

“_Empross!_” (Forward!) they said.

I felt a big rough hand take mine, and we started off into the thick
woods. We were mounting gradually, and the underbrush became thicker.
Presently I tripped and fell.

“_More_ Mitso!” my guide called to some one ahead. “Come back and
make a chair with me to carry the little girl. She is stumbling.”

The other returned; they joined their hands together, and I took my
seat on them, placing my arms around the men’s necks. I was neither
frightened for the present nor apprehensive for the future: I was
merely excited and enjoying the situation. My love of adventure was
being gratified to the full, and for once the knowledge that we were
poor was a satisfaction. As my brother had said, the days in which we
had money were so long left behind that even we ourselves had forgotten
them.

I felt sure that as soon as the brigands discovered their mistake
they would let us go, the customs of the brigands being as well
known as those of any other members of the community. Besides, had
not my brother said it was all a mistake--and at the time my brother
represented to me the knowledge of the world. I only hoped that the
brigands would not realize it before we reached their lair.

Up, and ever up we went, the men sure-footed in spite of the
underbrush. They halted at last, and set me down.

One of them whistled.

We waited a full minute, and he whistled again. Then one of them sang
in a rich baritone the first lines of the Greek national hymn--

  “Oh, Freedom! thou comest out of the holy bones of the
       Hellenes--oh, Freedom!”

From somewhere in the vicinity another voice took up the refrain, and
shortly afterwards there came a crash and a rattle of chains.

Some one took my hand again, and I felt that we passed through an
opening. Now we were descending; and gradually the coolness of the
night air changed to warmth, and the smell of food came to our nostrils.

We stopped, and our bandages were removed.

I blinked and rubbed my eyes. We were in a large low room, the floor
of which was partially covered with sheep-skins. A fire was burning,
inside a ring of stones, in the middle of the floor, which was the bare
earth, and a man was sitting by it, cross-legged, cooking.

“_Kali spera sas kai kalos orisete!_” (Good evening and welcome!)
he said to us. “The master will be in shortly. Pray be seated.”

We sat down on some sheep-skins, and I looked about me with interest.
The longer I looked the larger the room grew. Its shadowy ends seemed
to stretch off indefinitely. The ceiling was roughly vaulted, and
I judged that it must be a cave, of which there are many in the
mountains. Numerous weapons lay on the ground or hung on the walls, but
there was nothing terrifying about the place.

Very soon the leader came in. He was a man of about forty, dressed in
European clothes and unmistakably a dandy. He was tall and well-built,
and his black hair was parted in the middle, and carefully combed into
two large curly waves. His long black moustache was martially turned up
at the ends.

He bowed to us as if he were a diplomat, and we his distinguished
guests.

“Welcome to our mountainous abode. I am very glad to meet you.”

He shook hands with us warmly.

“We, too, are very glad to meet you,” said my brother; “but I cannot
understand why you are taking all this trouble. What we could afford to
give you would not keep you in cigarettes a week.”

“Are you quite sure, Mr Spiropoulo?”

“Good gracious, my dear sir,” Mano cried, “you don’t mean to say you
take _us_ for the Spiropouli?”

The chief smiled a most attractive smile it appeared to me; though my
brother afterwards described it as fatuous.

“I hope you did not find the ascent too difficult,” the leader inquired
solicitously.

“Two of the _pallikaria_ made a _skamnaki_ for me,” I put in.
“It was very nice of them.”

I have always spoken my mother tongue with considerable foreign accent,
not having learned it until after I spoke French, German and Turkish,
and this accent at once attracted the attention of our host. Gravely he
asked:

“Did you acquire this French accent, mademoiselle, in the short time
you have been studying the French language. Let me see, it is three
months now since you passed through the forest before. That was the
first time you left Anatolia, I believe--and one does not acquire a
French accent in Anatolia.”

From Mano’s face I knew that he was troubled, therefore I refrained
from being impertinent in answer to our host’s impertinence about my
accent. The latter went on lazily:

“We were sorry to miss you before. We fully intended offering you our
hospitality then--only you changed your plans so suddenly, and arrived
a week before you had intended to. I am glad we were fortunate enough
to secure you this time. One pines for social intercourse in the
mountains.”

The leader’s Greek was excellent. It was easy to see that he must have
been well born, or at least well educated. He stretched himself on a
sheep-skin near, and called to the cook:

“A whole one, boys!” Then, turning to us: “No one will be able to say
that we did not kill the fatted lamb for you.”

The cook, squatting by the fire, rose, walked over to an opening at one
side of the cave, and called:

“A whole one, Steryio!”

Returning to the middle of the room, he lifted up a trap-door, which
disclosed a large, bricked-up cavity, and began shovelling live coals
and brands into it from the fire.

Mano opened his cigarette case, and offered it to the chief.

The latter accepted it, and examined its contents critically.

“They are good, Mr Spiropoulo,” he said with condescension, “but I
believe you will find mine better.”

From his pocket he drew his own case, and passed it to my brother.

“Excellent!” exclaimed Mano. “I know the brand.”

“They were a present from his Holiness, the Bishop of Xanthy.”

“Do you still give the church five per cent. of your--your revenues?”
my brother inquired. “I heard his Holiness mention this devotion of
yours to the church.”

Our host laughed pleasantly. “So his Holiness said that, did he?”

Two men came into the room carrying a lamb made ready for roasting.
They held it while a third impaled it on a long iron bar. Then the bar
was laid across two iron projections, over the bed of embers, and a
handle was fitted to the end of the bar. One of the brigands squatted
down and began slowly turning the spit, and the others shovelled more
embers into the cavity underneath the lamb. We could feel the heat even
where we sat.

We all watched with interest the man rhythmically turning the lamb over
the fire. Gradually he began to hum a song in time to his turning.
It was one of the folk songs about the Armateloi and Kleftai, those
patriotic bandits who waged a guerrilla warfare against the Turks for
years before the Revolution broke out in 1821. It is a period dear
to the hearts of all Greeks; for it prepared and trained the men who,
during the terrible nine years of the Revolution, were to stand up
against and defeat the enormous armies of Turkey.

It is a period unique in the history of any nation, a period full of
grandeur of individual achievement, and it has been immortalized in
_Laïk_ poetry. I do not believe that there is a Greek to-day
who does not know at least some of these long poems, composed by the
Armateloi themselves, put to music by themselves, and transmitted to us
by word of mouth, from father to son.

As the brigand at the spit went on with his song, it was taken up like
an anthem by others, who began to swarm out of little cubby-holes
in the sides of the cave, which were hidden from view by hanging
sheep-skins. They squatted around the roasting lamb, or stretched
themselves on the ground, and snatched at the song, here, there,
anywhere; and the fumes of the meat mingled with the song, and the song
became part of the meat; and all blended with the vaulted room, and the
glorious white fustanella gleaming in the firelight.

One must be born under an alien yoke to understand what the love of
one’s fatherland is. Until the last year the Greeks may have gained
little in the estimation of the world, since a small portion of them
wrenched themselves free from the Turkish yoke. But those who condemn
them must remember that since the time of Alexander the Great, the
Greeks have passed from one conqueror to another--escaping annihilation
only by rendering their conquerors themselves Greeks in literature and
thought. At last they fell under the yoke of a race which neither could
learn their language nor cared for their civilization, and for four
hundred years they dwelled under this Asiatic dominion.

On this night, in the brigands’ cave, I understood the power Greece had
over her sons. These men were nothing but cut-throats. They would kill
or mutilate a man for money: yet as they sang the songs of those other,
more glorious brigands, who had striven for years in desperate fighting
against the conquerors of their race, they seemed to be touched by
something ennobling. Their faces shone with that light which comes from
the holiest of loves--patriotism.

They sang with fervour, and when they came to the parts relating
victories over the Turks, they clapped their hands and shouted, “_So!
so!_”

From one song they passed to another, while the lamb ever turned in
time to the music, and men brought chestnuts, potatoes, and onions, and
roasted them in the edge of the smaller fire--always singing.

Of a sudden one man broke into a gay little song of the monasteries:

  “How they rubbed the pepper, those devilish monks!”

To the giddy words and the infectious tune, a dozen men sprang to their
feet. They held out their handkerchiefs to each other, and instantly
there was a garland of dancing brigands about the fire. It was our
national dance, the Syrto, and they went through it with gusto and
passion.

By the time that was over, the lamb was cooked. We were invited to sit
round in a circle; the meat was torn apart with the hands, and a piece
dealt to each person.

Each brigand crossed himself three times, and then fell to, ravenously.
I enjoyed my dinner as much as they. My poor brother pretended to. As I
learned afterwards, he was afraid that the brigands would kill us from
mere annoyance, when they discovered that we were not the rich pair
they believed they had in their possession.

The meal over, the brigands crossed themselves again devoutly, and
thanked God, and His Son Christ, for the protection they had hitherto
extended to them. Then they began to talk of their exploits. Far from
being conscience-stricken, or in any way ashamed of their profession,
they gloried in it; and being in constant warfare with the Turkish
soldiery, they felt a really patriotic pride in their manner of life.

They told of running a certain Turkish officer through the heart
without the slightest pity for the man, or shame of the deed. Was he
not a Turk, their arch enemy, and the enemy of their race? Their point
of view on the ethics of life was quite original to me, and as they
boasted of the things they had done, something barbaric in me responded
to their recitals. I loved them, and as for their leader, he was a real
hero to me.

Again they passed from themselves to the heroic period of the Armateloi
and Kleftai, when brigandage attained its apotheosis.

After the fall of Constantinople, the Greeks were powerless against
the Turks. The other powers of Europe, during two hundred years, were
too frightened to think of more than saving their own skins; and when,
later, they did interfere in behalf of the Christians under the Ottoman
yoke, they did so only as an excuse for their personal gain.

Thus the Greeks had to depend on themselves, and in time the flower of
Greek manhood took to the mountains. Then the wrongs done by the Turks,
to their weak and defenceless fellow-countrymen, were fiercely and
brutally punished by these brigands. It was these Armateloi and Kleftai
who put an end to the human tax which the Greeks had been forced to pay
the conqueror. If a little girl was taken by force from a Greek home,
the brigands would fall upon a Turkish village, and avenge the wrong
on the women and children of the Turks.

It was a very rough form of justice; but gradually the Turks began to
fear the brigands, and in this fear they became more considerate toward
the Greeks.

That period, with all its ferocity and unspeakable brutality, was
the period of modern Greek chivalry; for those men did not attack
for money. They levied on the people merely for enough to live; but
when they descended on them as avengers of their countrymen’s wrongs
they were merciless--and they did rob the Turkish garrisons. In the
Revolution of 1821, much of the powder used by the Greeks was Turkish
powder, and many a Turk died by a gun he once had carried.

My brigands knew every one of the ballads of that time. They snatched
them from each other’s mouths, and recited them with no little talent
and dramatic power. They passed on to the Revolution itself, and to the
poetry which followed afterward. It was then Mano and I joined in. At
that time I knew the poetry of the Revolution better than I have ever
known any other subject since. Mano and I recited to them the poems
of Zalakosta and of Soutzo, of Paparighopoulo, and of the other great
poets who were inspired by the exploits of the Greeks from 1821 to
1829.

The enthusiasm of the brigands became tremendous. These poems, unlike
those of the Armateloi and Kleftai, are written in pure Greek, not in
the _Laïk_ language, and naturally they belong to the educated
classes rather than to the people. My brother egged me on to recite, in
a way foreign to his nature.

“Tell them the ‘Chani of Gravia,’” he cried.

This poem is one of the finest of modern Greek poems. It relates a
fight which took place in an inn, during the Revolution, between a
handful of Greeks and a Turkish army. In the middle of the night,
during a lull in the fighting, the leader tells his men that death
is certain, and that the only thing left them is to cover death with
glory. It describes how, each seizing his arms, they burst forth upon
their sleeping foes, and by the miracle that sometimes attends on noble
courage cut their way through, and every man escaped.

In part, the poem may be apocryphal, but it is founded on fact, and
thrills us to the marrow of our bones. It substantiates our claim to be
descendants of the old, heroic Greeks. As I recited to them the “Chani
of Gravia,” the brigands fell under its spell; and some of the love
they felt for that glorious fight fell upon me too. I became a small
part of that poem into which I was initiating them.

After I had finished, one of them called hoarsely:

“Say it again!”

I repeated it again, from beginning to end.

When the last line was ended, some of the men were weeping.

“We shall yet drive out the Turks--by the help of God, we shall!”

They were still deeply moved by the poem when my brother spoke to them.

“_Pallikaria_, you have just heard the little girl reciting to
you what can only be learned in an educated home.” He turned to the
leader: “You cannot now believe that the child’s unfortunate accent is
an affectation, acquired in the last few months. _Pallikaria_, you
cannot for a moment think that my little sister is the Spiropoulo girl,
coming out of a parvenu home, with money the only tradition.”

Again he turned to the leader:

“I take it that you speak French. Speak to her and to me in it, and
satisfy yourself that we know it. Some of your men here are from
Albania, and undoubtedly they know Italian. She can talk with them in
that language. Will not all this prove to you that she has lived out of
Anatolia all her short life?”

“Who are you then?” cried the leader, but before we could answer he
ordered us to remain quiet. He disappeared behind a sheep-skin, and
returned with a paper and pencil, which he handed to my brother. “Write
here your name and that of the little girl. Write also from where you
come, and whither you are going.”

My brother wrote all he was asked to, and returned the paper to the
leader.

The latter read it, surprise and anger mingling on his face. He turned
to me:

“Your name?”

I gave it.

“Your brother’s?”

I gave that, too.

“Where have you come from?”

I told him.

“And where are you going?”

Again I told him.

He tore the paper into bits, in a fury.

“Anathema on your heads, you idiot _pallikaria_!” he cried. “You
have captured the wrong people, while the others are now escaping us.”

“I happen to have read in the paper,” put in Mano, “that Spiropoulo and
his sister are going by boat to Myrsina, and thence to their homes.”

There was consternation among the bandits.

“We have very little,” my brother continued. “Take what we have, and
let us go.”

“Oh, please! please!” I implored, “do not take my ring. It is the only
piece of jewellery left to me.”

“Here! here!” one of the men exclaimed; “we are not in the habit of
sheering lambs--it’s sheep’s wool we are after, eh, captain?”

The leader did not reply to him. He was regarding us, more in sorrow
than in anger.

“When I shook hands with you to-night,” he remarked, “I felt as if I
were shaking hands with thousands of golden pounds. And now----”

He wagged his head, like a good man upon whom Fate has played a scurvy
trick.

“We shall get Spiropoulo yet,” said one of the men hopefully. “He has
entirely too much money, and we have too little. Our motto is ‘Equal
Division.’”

“You’re right, _pallikari_,” another assented, and the two shook
hands.

By this time it was the small hours of the morning, and the party began
to break up.

Some of the men rose to their feet, put on their _kosocks_,
saluted the leader, and started off on their business. By the entrance
was a large icon of St George, their patron saint. Each brigand, before
going out, halted in front of the icon, made the sign of the cross, and
reverently kissed the hand of the saint.

“Come with me, my holy Saint,” each implored.

I almost giggled at the idea of St George going with them and assisting
in the capture of harmless men.

Then the lanterns in the cave were put out; but first two small oil
lamps were lighted, one to be placed in front of the icon of St
George, and the other in front of an icon of the Virgin Mary, which
stood in the depth of the cave; for no pious Greek will leave the icon
of a saint in darkness, and many poor persons will go without food in
order to buy the necessary “oil of _kandilla_” for their icons.

All of the remaining brigands, before lying down on their sheep-skins,
stood for a minute in front of the icon of the Virgin silently saying
their prayers; and then I heard them saying aloud, after kissing the
feet of Mary:

“Guard us and keep us healthy and strong, our dear little mother; and
now good night, little mistress of heaven.”

They crossed themselves with a piety befitting monks, and I had to
stuff my handkerchief into my mouth to keep from betraying myself.

Then slumber descended upon the cave. The fire had died down, and only
the dim rays of the two little oil lamps illumined the great room.

It was harder for us to go to sleep than it was for the brigands. In
the first place, the sheep-skins they had given us were alive with
fleas. Mano lay close to me, keeping his arm around me.

The events of the day had excited me tremendously, and my brain would
not rest. When we alone seemed to be awake, I whispered:

“What was that blood which frightened our horses? Had the brigands
already killed some one?”

“No, I believe it was only the blood of some animal. They often
sprinkle the road with it in order to terrorize the horses and assist
in capturing the travellers. But now you must go to sleep.”

I was young; I had ridden many long hours; and fleas or no fleas,
brigands or no brigands, I fell asleep.

The strong smell of coffee wakened me in the morning. My brother
already held a cup of it.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked.

“I must have--but look at my hands!” They were dotted with red bites.

The cave had lost something of its romantic appearance of the night.
There were only three brigands in the room, and they were busy
preparing food. One of them got a towel, or what served for one, put
a few drops of water on the end of it--water seemed to be very scarce
with them--and brought it to me to wash my face and hands. He was a
very kind young brigand. He brought me some food, and a cup of the
strongest coffee I ever tasted.

He watched me eat as if he had been my nurse, and when I was finished,
asked a trifle sheepishly:

“How did you learn so much poetry?”

“Out of books,” I replied.

“Then you can write, too?”

“Very well,” I asserted complacently.

He became visibly embarrassed. Finally he blurted out:

“Just write out for me the ‘Chani of Gravia.’ Write it twice--no, three
times, for I shall always want to read it two or three times.”

I not only wrote it twice for him, but taught him to spell it out--or
rather to memorize it; for his scholarship was very rudimentary, while
his memory was excellent. I spent most of the time in this occupation.

During the course of the day we were told, quite unsensationally, that
in the evening we might continue our journey.

At nightfall we parted from the brigands with cordial expressions of
friendship on both sides. They shook hands with us, and many of them
assured us they had enjoyed our stay very much, and were sorry to see
us go. Only the leader was sulky in his manner. “I thought you two were
worth thousands of pounds,” he repeated grudgingly.

“The ‘Chani of Gravia’ was worth all the trouble we took,” my pupil
hastened to say, as if he feared we might be hurt by the lack of
cordiality in his chief.

We were again blindfolded, and two of the men led us out of the cave
and back to the place where they had captured us.

How they had obtained horses, I cannot imagine, but we found horses
waiting for us.

I rode away with an exhilaration I could not calm.

“If I were a man,” I said emphatically to my brother, “I should become
a brigand. It is a beautiful life.”

For the leader, with his curling hair and his black moustache, I felt
an especial admiration, in spite of his stand-offishness. He was long
my ideal of a hero; and it was one of the bitterest disappointments of
my girlhood when, some years later, in a fight between his band and an
overwhelming number of Turkish soldiers, he alone of all his men put up
a pitiful fight, and died like a coward.

I wept when I read about it, not for him, but for my lost ideal--for
the trust and admiration I had placed on a man not worthy to be a
leader of Greek brigands.



CHAPTER XIV

ALI BABA, MY CAÏQUE-TCHI


Our return journey to Constantinople was uneventful. There we found our
mother, who had decided to spend the winter in the town and not on the
island. I was not supposed to be well enough yet to resume my studies
seriously. My brother left us shortly for Europe again.

It would have been a dreary and miserable winter for me, away from my
home and the country, separated from my playmates and cooped up in
small city rooms, with only buildings to look at on all sides, had it
not been for a discovery I made. By accident I stumbled upon a big
volume of Byzantine history, a history, till then, practically unknown
to me.

As page after page gave forth its treasures, my interest in the people
of which it wrote increased, and loneliness and boredom departed, not
to return again that winter. After I finished the book it came over me
that all these marvellous things I had been reading about had taken
place yonder, at Stamboul, half an hour from where I sat. Instantly
the desire took possession of me to re-read that history, chapter
by chapter, then cross over to Stamboul and find the actual places
mentioned.

This was not so easy to accomplish as one might think; for I had to
reckon with the elders, who would have a thousand and one objections to
my going over to the Turkish city. I went immediately to my mother, and
without any preamble--which I knew to be the best way, in order to take
her breath away--told her of my project, speaking of it casually as if
it were as simple as drinking a glass of water.

She gave me the puzzled look with which she often regarded my little
person. I believe that every time I came before her she wondered anew
how I happened to be her child; for she was tall and beautiful, and
very conventional in her desires, and I was small and elfish, and
my desires were usually for things she could not imagine any person
wanting. After I had finished speaking, she replied quietly:

“What you ask is out of the question; for we have no one, you know, who
can waste so much time every week accompanying you.”

“I don’t want anyone,” I replied. “I would much rather go alone.”

The puzzled expression in her eyes deepened. “Go alone--over there? But
I have never been there alone in all my life.”

“I know that, mamma, but you know perfectly well that there are a
great many things you never did, or will ever bring yourself to do,
which I have already done. Besides,” I pleaded, “my father is dead now;
my brother is away; you took me from my home and brought me to this
horrid town, and you don’t even let me go to school on account of my
weak lungs--and what is there left for me to do?”

“Well, well,” my mother compromised, “you had better let me think it
over, child.”

The result of her thinking culminated in my being accompanied to the
former capital of the great Byzantine Empire by an uninterested and
unsympathetic female elder.

It was an utter failure, this my first attempt at archæological
research. The elder, besides being unsympathetic, had a supercilious
way of talking, and prided herself on her ignorance. Before the
afternoon was at an end she became tired and cross, and then coaxed me,
saying: “Why don’t we go and see the lovely jewels and silks in the
market, and there I shall treat you to a plate of _taouk-okshu_.”

I agreed at once, not because I was willing to sell my Byzantine
interests for a plate of sweets, but because her presence spoiled my
pleasure.

That evening my mother and I had a conversation of an animated nature,
a conversation which was continued the next day and yet the next,
and grew more animated with each session, until on my side it reached
stormy heights--and my mother’s nature abhorred storms; so I obtained
the coveted permission of going alone to the city of Byzantium.

“Mind though, baby,” she cautioned, “don’t ever cross the Golden Horn
in a boat. You must always go by the bridge.”

It had not occurred to me to take the boat, but once the suggestion
was made, it took possession of my brain, and tormented it to such an
extent that on arriving at the Galata Bridge my feet turned straight
to the quay where the Turkish boatmen were squatted, contemplatively
“drinking” their _narghiles_.

“A boat!” I commanded, imitating as far as possible my mother’s manner.

The first man of the row put aside his _narghile_ and rose
quietly. Unlike all the other nationalities in Turkey, the Turks alone
never jostle each other for a fare. They have a system of their own
which they scrupulously adhere to.

The _caïque-tchi_ who approached at my summons was an old man.
He was dressed in full baggy trousers, and wore a white turban on his
head. He must have been already old when Sultan Medjid, thirty years
previously, had substituted the fez for the turban, and he had not
cared to adopt the new head-dress.

“What does the little _hanoum_ wish?”

“To cross,” I replied, with the same haughty manner as before.

He bent down, unfastened the rope with which his slender, graceful
little _caïque_ was tied, and I stepped into it and settled myself
blissfully among the cushions in the bottom.

Before he had rowed me half-way over I remembered that I had forgotten
to strike a bargain with him. “By the way,” I said casually, “what is
your fare?”

“A _kourous_ and a half” (threepence) he said promptly.

“_What!_” I cried. “If you are not ready to accept half that, you
may just as well take me back.”

He stopped rowing. “Take you back! But where would be the profit?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, “but that’s the answer the dead philosopher
made to Charon.”

“If he were dead, how could he make an answer?” he asked.

Thereupon I found myself in my most favourite pastime--initiating
somebody into the Greek writings; and as I explained to him Lucian’s
“Dialogues of the Dead,” the old Turk listened intently, paddling very
slowly, slightly bending toward me, his kind eyes twinkling, his face
wreathed in smiles--looking very much like a nice, big, red apple,
shrivelled by the frost and sun.

By the time I had finished the story of the philosopher, we were
approaching the other side of the Golden Horn.

“You see,” I concluded, “you get more than Charon did out of the
transaction; and besides, since I am going over there three times a
week, you may become my regular boatman, and if you are over here with
a fare at sunset you may wait for me, and take me back, too--only then
I shall pay you one _para_ less.”

It was not because I was of a miserly disposition that I was bargaining
so hard; but I had only one _medjedié_ a month, and the elders
invariably borrowed a part of it back from me, so that I was always in
straitened circumstances.

“Why are you going over there so often?” he asked kindly.

I liked his baggy bloomers, of the colour of the stained glass windows
one sees in the old cathedrals; I liked his being faithful to the
turban, and I fell in love with his kind, beaming old face. Besides,
the way he enjoyed the story of the philosopher and Charon convinced
me that he was not like most of the dreadful elders--so I told him the
reason.

His oars again became suspended in the air, and he listened with intent
interest.

“Is it in the Koran you read all those things?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “in a book bigger than the Koran.”

“How can that be?” he asked incredulously.

Then I amplified, and told him of Constantine the Great, of how he left
Rome to build a new city, hundreds and hundreds of years before the
Turks had even thought of leaving Asia and invading Europe.

His attention to my words delighted me. I had not been so happy for
ever so long; for next to reading books I loved to impart them, since
in the telling I tasted them better. They became clearer to me.
Besides, sharing things from books is a joy to which there is nothing
comparable.

“You can read all this?” he exclaimed admiringly, “you, who are no
bigger than my thumb! But then your people could always read, though
they were no kind of fighters and we beat them.”

He did not mean to be rude, I knew. It was his direct, oriental way of
stating a fact, and I did not resent it. But I did explain to him that
in the past we had been _very_ great fighters--though I kindly
abstained from telling him how we had fought them in the Revolution,
and how we beat them.

That he was genuinely interested he proved to me when we landed.

“_Benim kuchouk, hanoum_ (my little lady) I should love to be
your _caïque-tchi_, both ways, and I shall charge you only two
_paras_ for each crossing, if you will only tell me what you are
going to see every day, and whether you found it over yonder.”

I extended my microscopic hand, and he took it solemnly in his big,
horny brown one.

“You are a dear, Ali Baba,” I cried. I did not know what his name was,
but Father Ali seemed to suit him.

Byzantine history, combined with my search in old Byzantium, and Ali
Baba’s rapt attention to my expounding of it, made that winter a very
happy one. I generally returned when the city was bathed in the sunset
light; and these hours with Ali Baba, listening, his oars poised over
the waters of the Golden Horn--truly golden at this hour--were hours of
enchantment for me. How could we help becoming fast friends, sharing
as we did such magical moments together. I liked him so much that I
began to economize and make him presents I thought he needed, such as
a new shirt, a new pair of stockings, a new cloth for his turban; and
it almost broke my heart when one evening, as he was landing me on the
Constantinople side, he, too, made me a present. It was a very gaudy
red and blue handkerchief, filled with raisins and _leblebia_--a
delectable grain only to be found in Turkey.

I accepted these, apparently delighted, yet wondering what I was to
do with them. It would have been impossible to enter the house and
go to my room without having to explain the handkerchief and its
contents--and the handkerchief would mean telling about the crossings
in the boat, and I did not wish to contemplate what would follow that
disclosure.

With a great deal of heart-aching I had to dispose of the sweets. I
gave them to some urchins in the street, and my ache in a measure was
relieved by the joy they manifested.

Although this was the only winter I travelled with Ali Baba, I never
forgot him. Indeed the bond between us was too great lightly to forget;
and when I came to town I always managed to save a half hour for him.
I would go directly to the quay, and if he were not there I would wait
for him till he came back from the other side. If he were there, he
always rose quickly, unfastened his little _caïque_, and off we
were; only to stop in mid-stream, his oars poised in the air, his kind
eyes twinkling, his mouth half-opened with a smile, listening to the
things I had to say of books and of travels.



CHAPTER XV

MY LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN


The following year I was sent to Paris for my studies, where I was
to remain three whole years, without returning home; yet on my first
summer holidays my mother changed her mind and sent for me. That
summer, too, we were not to spend at our home on the island, but in
Pantich, an adorable, sleepy, little Turkish village, on the Asiatic
shore of the Marmora.

Pantich is as far behind the rest of Turkey as the rest of Turkey
is behind Europe. Its traditions are those of the Byzantine period,
when Constantinople was the capital of the Greek Empire. The Turkish
quarters cluster around the _Tzami_, which is built in a square of
plantain trees, with a fountain in the middle. The Greek houses make a
belt around their little Orthodox Church, with a school on its right
and a cemetery on its left.

And though the Turks and the Greeks are divided like the goats and the
sheep, all men wear the fez, and all women veil their faces.

Only one event ever happened in Pantich: the coming of the railroad
through it. Small wonder that, when the trains began to run, the
inhabitants brought their luncheons and sat all day long close to the
rails, waiting to see the wonderful thing pass, which ran of its own
accord, with a speed beyond the dreams of the fastest horse. Small
wonder, too, that the rents of the houses near the track began to go up
like speculative stocks in a Wall Street boom.

The house we took belonged to a Turkish lady, who became at once the
great interest of my life, although she was never to be seen. We heard
that she was the former wife of dashing young Nouri Pasha, whom we
knew on the island of Prinkipo, and who was famous for his looks, his
riches, and his many beautiful wives. We transacted our business with
her through one of her slaves. The lady herself had never been seen
since the day she left her husband, eight years before, and came to
bury herself in her maternal property here.

Our house was surrounded by a very large garden and an orchard, the
trees of which were so old and so patched that I was never surprised on
climbing a cherry tree to find plums growing there, or at the top of
a plum tree to discover _dzidzifa_. It became a game with me to
climb the highest trees, to see what would grow on the top branches.
These trees were grafted with the greatest ingenuity, not for the
fruit, but for the colour scheme in blossom time.

At the end of our orchard there was a drop of about eight feet, and
there began the garden surrounding the house where our proprietess
lived. It must have comprised a hundred acres, and ended at the sea. It
was not cultivated, like the other properties, but was mostly woodland,
with flowers in the clearings. What I could see of it fascinated and
attracted me. I had an idea that if I could penetrate into that garden
I should surprise the spirits of the flowers and trees, who, thinking
themselves protected from human intrusion, must come forth from their
earthly shells to parade under their own shadow.

We had been in our new, old house for two weeks, and when I was neither
reading nor climbing the trees I was scheming how to get into the
garden. In all my reconnoitring I had never seen or heard a human being
in that garden below, and if I had not known that people lived there I
should have thought the property abandoned.

My mother went away for the week-end. It was early afternoon, and
the entire universe was at siesta. I chose that hour to make a still
closer search for a means of getting down those eight feet, to roam the
beckoning garden. If discovered, of course, I should have to pretend
that I had fallen in accidentally.

I came as near to the edge as I could, and before I knew it, down went
the stones under my feet, and down went I, followed by more stones. In
falling my teeth cut my lip, and made it bleed.

I lay partially stunned, but certain I was not badly hurt; for all my
limbs had answered to the call of my little brain. Then I heard the
pit-pat of running feet, and waited to see what would happen.

A young woman came and bent over me.

“_Yavroum_, are you hurt?” she asked.

“No,” I answered.

“But you are bleeding!” she exclaimed in a horrified tone.

She was joined by another woman, somewhat older, who was out of breath
from running.

“Is she dead?” she cried.

“It will take more than this to kill me,” I declared, and moved to get
up.

“No! no! Be still. We will carry you to our mistress,” they commanded.

Willingly I obeyed. One took hold of my shoulders, and the other of
my feet, and they carried me to a small summer-house, in a grove of
cypresses. A tall slender woman dressed in the green of the grass half
rose from a couch.

“Is she hurt, Leila?” she asked, and it was as if I were a little
bird fallen from its nest, so remote and impersonal was the interest
manifested in her voice. If at the time I had been familiar with
Maeterlinck, I should have thought that I was a minor actor in one of
his unreal plays, and the lady in green the leading character.

“She’s bleeding, mistress.”

“Then you had better carry her into the house.”

She rose and preceded us. Her walk, like her speech, seemed remote from
common earth, and to my half-closed eyes she seemed to float along, not
to proceed step by step, as do common mortals.

They carried me into the vast hall of her house, paved with cement,
and ending in a balcony overhanging the sea of Marmora, and laid me
on a couch. The mistress of the house sat by me, and touched my cheek
lightly with one of her fingers.

“Get some fresh water, Leila,” she commanded.

The younger of the two slaves lifted an iron cover in the middle of the
hall, and dropped down an old black iron bucket, which, after a long
minute, touched water in the depths of the earth. The water she brought
me was icy cold. They bathed my mouth, and put a wet towel on my head.
Inwardly I was laughing at all this attention; but I was quite content.

When the bleeding stopped, the lady ordered a sherbet. It was made of
fresh cherries, cool and sweet, and I ate it with great relish. Then
the lady in her soft, remote voice crooned:

“You are the baby of my new tenants, are you not?”

“I am not a baby,” I answered, insulted. “I’m quite grown up, only I’m
undersized--and all my frocks are three years old. But because they
are in good condition, and I can’t outgrow them enough, I must keep on
wearing them.”

She laughed. “I have been watching you since you came here, and it
seems to me wonderful that you haven’t been killed several times. Why
do you keep on climbing those trees?”

“To get my afternoon tea up there,” I answered. “Besides which it keeps
me thin.”

The light of amusement danced in her eyes, but she did not laugh again.

“I can see what you think in your eyes,” I said. “You think that what
I need is fattening. My family takes care of that; for I am made to
swallow everything from _vin de quinquina_ to any other drug they
may see advertised, with or without the consent of the doctor. And if I
were to get fat they would then start on the opposite drugs.”

At this she burst forth into peals of laughter, and in the midst of her
laughing she said: “I do believe you are older than you look.”

I gave a jump and sat upright. The two slaves, who were standing over
me with their arms crossed, exclaimed in unison: “She must not move,
mistress, she must not move!”

“Now lie down, like a little dear, and tell me how old you are.”

“To show you how old I am,” I said proudly and priggishly, “I may tell
you that I have finished my Greek studies, and have been a year in
Paris. I return there again in September.”

“In Paris! You have been in Paris?” she asked reverently, losing some
of the remoteness in her voice.

I was pleased to notice the interest I was arousing in her.

“Oh, I have been there several times before, only now I am there as a
student.”

“I am going to send word to your mother that you fell into my garden,
that you are a little hurt, and that I shall keep you all the
afternoon.”

“You needn’t trouble yourself,” I said, “for there’s nobody at home but
the maids. I shall be all alone for two days now.”

“Indeed!” Her eyes shone with pleasure. “Then perhaps you would like to
spend those two days with me?”

“I should love to,” I cried, “but I must first make a little
confession.”

She leaned over me and forced me to lie down. She was still quite
Maeterlinckian.

“What is your confession?”

“The reason I fell into your garden,” I proceeded very quickly, “was
because I was reconnoitring how to manage to fall into it. I wanted
very much to see your garden--and you.”

“Why?”

“For many reasons,” I answered diplomatically.

“Give them to me.”

“W-e-l-l, you have lived here for years now, without ever leaving the
place.”

“I don’t know of anyone in Pantich who ever does leave it.”

“Y-e-s, I know; but you are different.”

She leaned over me with the look of a severe fairy in her large dark
eyes.

“You just tell me why you wished to see me.”

“All the truth?” I asked.

“All the truth.”

“Well, for the romance which surrounds you. You left Nouri Pasha and
his beautiful houses to come and live here, in this very old house, in
a place where nothing ever happens. Besides I imagined you to be very
beautiful.”

“And do you find me as beautiful as you thought me?”

“I don’t know. All I can think of when I look at you is--a fountain----”

“To call _me_ a fountain is almost like a wicked jest,” she
interrupted. “A fountain gives constantly forth the riches of its
waters.”

“But the fountain you remind me of had no waters. It was a big
fountain, in the middle of which sat a bronze lady looking exactly like
you. The waters were to pour forth from her two extended hands--but
none came. The gardener told me they had lost the key, and they had
never been able to unlock it. And, as there were many more fountains in
the place, they did not bother.”

A cloud passed over her face.

“Then I _am_ like your fountain.”

She sat drooping, her hands clasped in her lap, gazing before her with
that gaze which sees not the seen world. At length she shook off this
mood and turned to the slave:

“Leila, go to the little bird’s home, and say she is with us, and that
I shall keep her till her mother returns. And you, Mihri, can go and
make the room next to mine ready for this little child.”

“Please don’t call me ‘little child,’” I exclaimed. “I am fourteen
years old, and at my age my great-grandmother was married and had a
son.”

She paid no heed to my words, seeming to be lost in her own thoughts.

“When you go to Paris somebody accompanies you, of course.”

“Not always. I know all the captains of the Fabre Line, and all the
officers. I am placed in their care, and at Marseilles I take the
train, and reach Paris the same day, where I am met. Anyway, I could go
to the end of the world by myself.”

The word Paris seemed to possess the power to give her whatever
semblance to life she could acquire.

“But sometimes somebody may go with you as a companion--yes?”

“Yes,” I assented.

She rose, and crossing the vast hall, stood on the balcony overhanging
the sea. When she came back to me her eyes seemed changed. They were
larger, deeper, and full of mystery. She was more than ever like the
Lady of the Locked Fountain.

“I am very glad you fell to-day into my garden. I think--I--shall like
you.” She sat down comfortably by me, cross-legged, her long string of
amber beads held in her clasped hands. “Tell me, what do you do with
the books you are so interested in when you are not trying to dig your
grave by climbing the trees?”

“I read them,” I answered puzzled.

“Read? Read what?”

“Just read,” I answered again. “Don’t you read?”

She shook her head.

“Don’t you ever read anything?” I exclaimed, for my own life was made
up of books. Then the suspicion came to me that perhaps she did not
know how. “Can’t you read?” I asked.

“I learned when I was a child; and I can still read the Koran, where I
know it pretty well, and some poetry.”

“Then you do read poetry?”

“Not now; for I know my poems by heart.”

I stared at her in amazement. “You don’t know by heart all the poems in
the world, do you?”

“No, unless all the poems in the world are ten,” she answered smiling.

I pondered a minute over her state of mind. “I think I should go mad
unless I had books to read,” I observed.

“What is in them?” she asked, more simply than I had ever asked about
anything in my life. At that moment she was a pure Asiatic, descended
from a thousand Asiatic ancestors, from whom the books have kept their
secrets. “What is in them?” she repeated. “Aren’t they all alike?”

“Each book is the history of a human being, or of a whole race; and
sometimes it takes books and books to tell you about the one or the
other.”

“How many have you read in all?”

“Thousands,” I answered vaingloriously.

“And do you love them all?”

I shook my head. “No, there are horrid books, as there are horrid
people; but most of them are beautiful, full of the lives and stories
of people who have lived and dreamed and done things in the world.”

“Tell me some of them.”

She bent her head and listened, while I told her some of my favourite
tales; and as I talked she became excited, and laughed when the stories
were funny, and cried if they were sad.

During the two days I spent with her, I related many of the books I had
read; and at the end of my stay we were close friends, for if I was a
child in years she was one in experience. And she was so delightfully
simple, with a simplicity which must have made God glad to have created
human beings.

If she was ignorant of books, she was curiously full of ideas
concerning things she had observed. Because she lived in solitude and
watched the sky, she knew all the stars--not by their scientific names,
but by ones she invented for herself. As we sat on the balcony over the
water she told me that at certain seasons of the year a large luminous
star kept watch over the opposite side of the Marmora. She called it
the Heavenly Lily, and knew the exact hour it appeared every night, and
how long it would stay. She told me that the coming of certain stars
had to do with the growth of certain flowers and crops. She spoke of
them not as stars, but as heavenly watchers, whose earthly worshippers
were the flowers. The water she referred to as the earth’s milk. She
disliked the winds, but she loved the storms, “because they proved
that Allah could lose his temper. It is nice,” she added in a very
low tone, as if afraid that he might hear her, “it’s nice to feel that
Allah himself has failings.”

But if she were ready to talk of her thoughts, there was a certain
aloofness about her which exempted her personal affairs from
discussion. Indeed I still had the impression of talking with the
bronze lady of the fountain. This attitude of hers several times
arrested on the tip of my tongue the sentence: “Why did you leave
handsome Nouri Pasha?”

Just before I went away, she asked, _à propos_ of nothing, “When
do you leave for Paris?”

“At the end of September, or may be the first week in October.”

“It is a very long way off,” she murmured, half to herself.

“It will pass quickly enough.”

She remained silent, in that silence which is full of whispers. One
felt the talking of her thoughts.

After this first visit it became a habit of hers to send for me often
to spend entire afternoons with her. She let me climb her trees and
gather fruit for our afternoon meal, while the slaves drew cool water
from the well.

When our friendship was a few weeks old I asked her: “Do you like
living here all alone in this old house? Nouri Pasha has so many other
houses, both on the island and on the Bosphorus, which are ever so
much nicer than this old one. Why don’t you take one of those?”

“This is not Nouri Pasha’s house,” she corrected me. “This is my
own house. I was born here, and I love it. You mustn’t call it old,
otherwise it will be offended, and its shadow will grow dark when you
come into it.”

I did not say anything for a while, and it was she who spoke again.

“You know Nouri Pasha then?”

“Oh, yes. He lives near us on the island, and I love the horses he
rides. They are so large and shiny; and I can tell it is his carriage
from very far off, because he has so many unnecessary chains on the
harness, which dangle and make a fuss.”

She laughed like a child at this description, and I, encouraged by the
laugh, asked boldly:

“Did you love him very much?”

“I think so,” she replied simply.

“Frightfully?”

The girlish adverb amused her.

“Perhaps--even so.”

As she said the last words her voice became remote, her eyes took on
their unhuman expression, and she turned again into the Lady of the
Fountain. Yet her lips opened, and she said:

“Tell me a story, fairy child, a story about Paris.”

And because Alexander Dumas _père_ has lived and written, I could
tell her of France in dazzling colours, and in dazzling deeds. In the
midst of my story she broke in:

“Have you ever seen--” She stopped abruptly. “Go on, go on, dear.
Forgive me for interrupting.”

“Have I ever seen what?” I insisted.

A forbidding look made me continue my story.

She became a regular part of my life. I even was obedient at home, for
fear that as a punishment I might be kept from her. As soon as luncheon
was over, I would lie down for my hour of rest, then dress quickly and
go to the place where I had first fallen into her garden. There we now
had two ropes fastened, for me to slide down. Sometimes she would even
be there, ready to catch me before I touched the ground.

We were fast friends, yet our friendship partook of the unreal, since
she never gave me anything except her impersonal thoughts. Of her past
life she never spoke, and her heart was as withheld from me as the
waters of the fountain to which I had compared her.

Again one day she began: “Have you ever seen--” and again broke off,
and insisted that she had meant to say nothing, and apologized for not
knowing what she wanted to say.

I pondered a good deal over the unfinished phrase, and finally thought
I had found the end of it. So one afternoon when she began for the
third time, “Have you ever seen--” and stopped, I added--“Nouri Pasha’s
other three wives? Yes, I have seen them, and if I were a man I’d
gladly give all three of them to get you.”

She turned squarely upon me, a look of amazement in her deep brown
eyes, which at the moment were full of the light of the sun and
appeared golden. Then she exploded into laughter. Peal followed peal,
and I was cross at her for making me appear stupid when I had thought
myself so clever.

“Just what made you think this?”

Out of my anger, I answered brutally: “Well, it is quite natural that
you should want to know about the women who have supplanted you.”

The instant the words were uttered I repented of them, and I should
have tried to gain her pardon, except that she did not even seem to
have noticed my brutality.

“I know how they look,” she said calmly: “and men would not agree
with you about the exchange. Besides they are all younger than I, the
youngest is only three years older than you--only as old as I was when
I was married.”

Her voice had been growing colder and colder, and the chill of November
frost was on the last word. Fortunately Leila came in with her zither
to sing and play. When the time came for me to go away, my friend
kissed and patted me for a long time, and said:

“When the _hanoum_, your mother, goes away again, will she not let
you come and stay with me, if I send word I will be responsible for
your neck?”

Thus it came about that whenever my mother went off for a week-end, I
found myself the guest of my Lady of the Fountain, and slept in the
little room off hers. During one of these visits, she came in at night,
and sat down near my bed.

“When you go to Paris this time, some one will accompany you,” she said.

“No, I am going alone.”

She shook her head. “No, no, you will have some one with you, for I am
going with you.”

I was amazed to the point of speechlessness. When I regained my tongue
I exclaimed:

“You know perfectly well that the government will never permit it.”

“Yes. That is why I shall not ask the government. I have always wanted
to see the world, and especially Paris. I never saw how I could do it
till you fell into my garden--and I know that I can trust you.”

“But how will you manage it?”

“I shall be your companion.”

“You can’t, you speak neither Greek nor French. Every one will guess
you are Turkish.”

“I can be an Armenian, and as for French I am going to learn it. We
have time. You can teach me.”

Nothing delighted me more than an adventure--and such an uncommon one.
Until late into the night we talked about her trip, studying it in its
various aspects. We decided that I should first write to the convent
where I stayed in Paris to ask if they would take an Armenian lady.
Later I was to write to the Compagnie Fabre and engage her stateroom.
“But the passport,” I cried suddenly. “You must have a passport, you
know, to leave Turkey.”

“Oh, that I have thought of, and I have it all arranged. You know
Sourpouy, the Armenian girl, the lace-vendor of the village? She is
tall like me, with brown hair and brown eyes. I shall ask her to go to
Athens for me, to buy me some laces there. I shall pay her expenses,
and a good commission. She must, of course, have a _teskeré_--yes?”

“Naturally.”

“Well, she will get it. She will bring it here. I will examine it, and
so will Leila. While she examines it, she smokes; but Leila is very
awkward--the paper comes near her match, and it burns. You see?”

“I see, only----”

“Only what burns is not the passport. I am very angry. I scold Leila,
and then Leila says: ‘It is an omen for you not to send poor Sourpouy,
because it means that Sourpouy is going to drown.’ And that makes
Sourpouy very superstitious. She will not get another passport, even
when I promise more commission--and in this manner, you see, I am left
with my passport.”

We laughed happily over her plans, and she astonished me with her
common sense and practical knowledge. And she, who had done no studying
since she was a little girl, applied herself to learning French like a
poor but ambitious student.

She arranged the twenty-four letters of the French alphabet in three
rows, on a large sheet of paper, and learned them all in two days. Then
she cut a hole in another sheet of paper just large enough to permit a
single letter to show through, and slipped this about over the alphabet
at random, in order to make sure she knew the different letters without
regard to their relative positions. In two weeks she was reading
fluently in a child’s book of stories I had brought her. Of course she
did not understand all she was reading, but her progress, nevertheless,
was marvellous. Since then I have taught many persons French, but never
one who learned it so quickly, and her melodious Turkish accent made
the French very sweet to hear.

A dressmaker was engaged to make her some European clothes. This would
arouse no suspicion, since Turkish women often amused themselves by
having a European dress or two made for indoor use. And I was to buy
her a hat and a veil. “If it is not becoming to me, I can buy another
in Athens when the boat stops there,” she said.

Our plan was for her to stay all the winter in Paris, and return with
me in the spring; or, if she got tired of Paris, to return with me at
Christmas. Her slaves were devoted to her. Leila was her foster-sister,
and a childless widow, and knew of no other happiness than to serve
her mistress; and Mihri, who was the elder sister of Leila, knew of no
other happiness than to serve the two younger women. The two sisters
were to stay at home and pretend that their mistress was ailing, and
since she hardly ever went out of the house, or received anyone, it
would be an easy matter to hide from the world that the former wife of
Nouri Pasha was away from home.

Our talks now were entirely about our journey. Yet there were times
when, with her fingers clasped, and watching the ships on the far
horizon, she would lose herself in reverie. Then she seemed to be
suddenly inexplicably sad. Once when I was spending a week-end with
her, she passed the entire afternoon gazing at the sea, her face
immobile and lifeless.

After I had gone to bed that night, she came to me as was her custom,
and kneeled by me to kiss me good night. Of a sudden she put her arms
around me, and said quickly, as if she were afraid of her own words:

“_Yavroum_, have you ever seen Nouri Pasha’s children?”

“Yes,” I answered, “I have seen them all: the three little girls, and
the tiny little boy.”

“Tell me about them.”

I told her all I knew, and especially of the little man who was less
than a year old. I had seen him just before we came to spend the summer
in Pantich. His mother had been ill ever since his birth and could not
nurse him, and thus he had a French _nounou_, who wore yards and
yards of ribbon on her bonnet.

That night was the first time that my Lady of the Fountain was
pathetically human. She thirsted for every scrap of news I was able to
give her about these children who were not hers, but the man’s who had
put her aside. When she left me she did not go to her own room, but
downstairs, and I heard her opening the door leading out on the terrace
below. Thinking about her I fell asleep, and when, several hours later,
I awoke again, the pathos of her life was magnified to me by the
darkness and stillness of the night. I rose from my bed, and went to
her room, to tell her how much _I_ at least loved her.

She was not there, and her bed was undisturbed.

Where could she be? I crept cautiously downstairs, and through the open
doorway out on the terrace.

She sat huddled in a corner, watching the sea, in the same attitude
which had been hers all that day. Quietly I sat down beside her, my
arms stealing around her. She did not speak to me at once, and when she
did her voice was unsteady, and shaking with unshed tears.

“Everything has a purpose in life--even the stars so high and
remote--and I alone am purposeless. Just because I lost my husband’s
savage love, I left him, without a word, without an explanation, as if
the brutal side of life were all that existed between man and woman.
If I had stayed, in spite of the second wife, I might have been of use
to him, for I had a good influence over him--and Allah might then have
given me a child.” She buried her face in her hands. “Allah! I am so
useless--so useless!” she moaned.

The silence of the night alone answered her, and I, having no words to
comfort her grief, took one of her jasmine-scented hands and kissed it.

Next morning my Lady of the Fountain had quite recovered her composure,
and even talked of her coming Paris escapade, but she was pale and worn
out, like a battered ship which has met with a storm.

A few days later I came to bid her good-bye, for this time I was going
with my mother on a visit to the island. She put her arms around me as
if she did not wish to let me go. Wistfully she said:

“When you are on the island, could you go to Nouri Pasha’s house?”

“Yes.”

“Then go and see the little boy. Kiss him, and bring me a kiss from
him. Will you?”

On the day after my arrival on the island I went to the pines, where
all the children are taken, but the little fellow was not there. The
nurses of his sisters told me that his mother was worse, and wished him
kept in the garden so that she could see him from the window.

Thereupon I went to Nouri Pasha’s house. The Bréton nurse in all her
finery was seated under an awning, the baby on her lap. I talked with
her awhile, and begged her to let me hold the baby, which she did. It
was a sweet baby, and strong.

“Is his mother better?” I asked.

“She will never be better, I fear.”

Just then a bell rang out of a window above us, and the nurse got up
and took the baby from me, saying:

“That is for me to bring him to his mother.”

After she had gone I picked up a rattle the baby had dropped to give it
to some one. I could find no one about, and the idea came to me to keep
it and take it to my Lady of the Fountain.

Two days later when I entered her apartment and presented it to her,
saying it was a present I had brought her from the island, she took it
and examined it with a puzzled expression. Being a European rattle she
did not know what it was.

“What am I to do with it?” she asked.

“To play with it,” and seeing her more puzzled still I explained to her
what it was, and how I had got it.

She patted it affectionately. “Pretty little toy!” she murmured;
“pretty little toy! I believe it is warm yet from the baby touch.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Our French lessons made great progress, and her preparations for Paris
were completed. The scheme for obtaining a passport worked without
a hitch, and word had come from the convent that the lady could be
accommodated.

At last September was with us, and its coming that year was cold and
dreary. The tramontana blew daily, the flowers lost their colour and
perfume, and the grass turned pale. Already under the eaves one could
hear the bustling swallows, and on a particularly cold day news came,
somehow, that Nouri Pasha’s youngest wife was dead.

My Lady of the Fountain wept as if the girl had been her only child;
and between her tears and sobs she kept saying:

“She was only seventeen--and beloved--and the mother of a boy. And now
she is dead, leaving the little one motherless. How cruel! How cruel!
And yet Allah must be just.”

After this event a great change came over her. She was not sad, since
it is forbidden Turkish women to continue their sadness for more than a
day or two; yet she was not herself. She was constantly thinking, and
her thoughts were not restful. I felt that she did not wish me, and
stayed away.

Then she sent for me. I found her in her own room, writing, the floor
littered with torn paper.

“Oh, _yavroum_!” she exclaimed, “I am trying to compose a letter,
but it does not come. I have never composed one before. How do you do
it?”

“You simply say what you have to say.”

“And if what you have to say is that for which your heart cries, how do
you say it?”

“You say it in the words your heart uses.”

She pondered my advice.

“Yes, yes, you are right. Make no phrases. Just sit down,
_yavroum_.” She wrote feverishly, and in a few minutes gave a
sigh. “It is done!”

She folded the paper and put it in her bosom. She was very nice to me,
but said nothing further of the letter, and refused to read any French.

Leila came and played to her, and I went home without learning anything
more about it. As it was now the middle of September, and we were to
go in ten days, I had my own preparations to make, and did not see my
friend for a few days.

It was again she who sent for me. I found her flushed and excited. She
took me in her arms and kissed me with unwonted tenderness.

“You have not been here for so long, _yavroum_, and I have news
to tell you. Nouri Pasha will give me the little boy. The French woman
will be dismissed, and I shall bring him up like an Osmanli boy.”

“Aren’t you going to Paris with me?” I cried.

“Oh, no! no! I am going to stay here. Come into the house. Come and see
how ready we have made the rooms--ready for the young lion, who will be
here soon.”

We went all over the house. It had been scrubbed and cleaned as if for
a bridegroom. Her own rooms had new curtains, new chintz covers, and
was beautifully scented.

“He will live right here with me--see!” She pointed to a cradle placed
beside her bed. Her face flushed. With one hand she touched the cradle
timidly, with the other she pressed her heart, as if to keep it from
beating too fast.

On the boy’s arrival, the house was wreathed and decorated. All the
flowers of the garden were made into garlands, and festooned outside
the house from window to window. The two slaves wore new gowns.

Leila received me. “_Evvet, evvet, hanoum effendi_, the young
lion has come. He’s upstairs with his mother--and she is good to look
at.”

I climbed the much beribboned stairs; for all the old brocades and rare
Anatolian shawls were draped over the banisters; and went to my Lady’s
room. I found her seated on a couch, all clad in white satin, holding
Nouri Pasha’s son fast in her arms.

“Come! come! _yavroum_, come to see him. Isn’t he wonderful, and
isn’t Allah good to me?”

“He is a nice baby; but because you have him you will not go to Paris
with me, and you will never, never see the world.”

She gazed up at me as if we had never talked of Paris. “Oh, yes,
Paris,” she murmured dreamily. “That was for my selfish pleasure.
But now,” she continued with a thrill in her voice, “now I am doing
something for the world.”

Her face shone with the light which must be lighted from the divine
spark within us, when the self is effaced. She looked more than ever
like the Lady of the Fountain--but a fountain unlocked, and giving to
the world from its abundant waters.



CHAPTER XVI

CHAKENDÉ, THE SCORNED


It was dreary going away to Paris without my Lady of the Fountain,
especially since I had made up my mind to have her with me; but it was
a well-deserved punishment for attaching importance to the word of an
elder.

The following two years were years of little to tell. They were filled
with studies and books, and books and studies. Black clouds were
already thickening on my young horizon, and I knew that sooner or later
I should have to encounter the storm. I had a thousand and one projects
for my life. Above all I wanted to become a doctor in order to minister
to the Turkish women, who at the time would rather die than see a man
doctor. I lived in that dream of wonderful usefulness which was to be
mine, and which was to save me from the martyrdom of the women of my
race.

The usual fate of a Greek girl, who has to sit and wait until a
marriage is arranged for her, seemed to me the worst thing that could
befall me. And if the fate of the Greek girl with money was terrible,
what could I think of a girl like me, who had no dowry?

It would mean a ceaseless plotting of all my female relatives to
capture a suitable _parti_. And a man would be a suitable
_parti_ if he had money and position, irrespective of any other
qualifications.

For a long time I had secretly resolved to work and fit myself to lead
my own life, and be spared the humiliation of being delivered over by
my family to some man who would condescend to receive me without being
paid for it. Thus these two years in Paris were years of hard work and
application. I had moments of intense longing for Turkey and for my old
life, which I had to brush aside, and to keep on working. Now and then,
enclosed in my mother’s letters, came epistles from Djimlah and Nashan,
but I never heard from Chakendé.

At the end of two years my mother sent for me again. Since I was now
sixteen years old, this did not presage well for me. I knew that, as a
penniless girl, I had to be disposed of as soon as possible. The older
I grew, the more difficult it would be for my female relatives to make
a match for me.

This was the sword of Damocles hanging over me. It was not that I
was averse to being married. On the contrary, in my most adventurous
schemes I never saw myself an old maid. I had the inherent hatred of
the Greeks for that word. But I wanted to make my own marriage.

I considered for some time, before returning to Constantinople. I
seriously contemplated disobeying the maternal summons and escaping
to America; for America always rose up in my dreams as the land of
salvation. Ultimately, I knew that I must go there, if I were to earn
my own living; but I decided to return to Constantinople. The longing
to see it again was strong upon me, and besides my brother happened
to be there at this time; and as long as he was there I hoped that I
should not be handed over, like bargain counter goods, to any man.

  “_Ashadnan na Mahomet Rasoul Allah!
    Bismallah!
    Allah-hu-akbar!_”

These were the words chanted, from a minaret near by, in the shrill
sweet voice of a young _muezzin_, as I emerged from my compartment
of the Oriental Express, in Constantinople, two days later.

My soul answered to this call of the East. I felt as if I should like
to throw myself on a prayer-rug, face Mecca, and cry with the young
_muezzin_, “Allah-hu-akbar!”

I had left the West behind--I was again in the East, the enchanting,
poetical East.

This feeling was strengthened when, on reaching my hotel, I found a
letter from my mother telling me not to come to our home on the island
that day, because it was Tuesday, as ill-omened a day with the Greeks
as Friday is with the rest of Europe.

Indeed this was the East again--the East with its cry to Allah, and
its predominating superstitions. But I could not yet feel the proper
respect for ancestral superstitions. I had the arrogant self-confidence
of youth in full, and, as youth feels, I felt that the right lay with
my own inclinations. It was a hot and oppressive summer day in town,
and in disregard of maternal displeasure I decided to go on immediately
by the morning boat.

In spite of the heat and of a strange feeling of oppression in the
atmosphere, I went on foot to the Bridge of Galata, in order that I
might revel again in the crooked streets of Constantinople, hear the
merchants cry out their wares, be followed by some of the stray dogs,
salute my old friend Ali Baba, the boatman, and thus assure myself that
I really was again in my beloved city on the Golden Horn.

By the time I had bought my ticket for the steamer, Paris was as far
from my spirit as it was from my flesh--and the superstitions of my
mother no longer seemed unworthy of attention, even though I still
persisted in pleasing my selfish self. The idea of a happy compromise
suggested itself: I would take the boat to the island, but instead
of going home I would spend the day at my cousin’s, at the other end
of the island, and arrive home on the following day, as my mother had
requested.

Thereupon, in pursuit of this comfortable arrangement, on entering the
boat, instead of making my way to the first class deck, where men and
Christian women sit together, I betook myself to one of those private
little rooms which exist on the Mahshousettes boats exclusively for the
convenience of aristocratic Turkish ladies. By secluding myself in one
of these I effectually avoided the risk of recognition and report.

I opened the door of one. The cabin was in semi-obscurity, and occupied
by three veiled ladies. However, as the place could accommodate four,
I entered. It was their privilege to ask me to depart, if they did not
care for the company of an unbeliever. I sat down and waited to see if
they would use their prerogative. To my surprise a lithe young woman
rose hastily and stood before me. Her two slender and tightly gloved
hands grasped my shoulders, and a pair of fine eyes peered into mine.

“Why, little Thunderstorm!”

A _feredjé_ enveloped me and my lips came into close contact with
the filmly _yashmak_ of Chakendé of the Timur-Lang. It was indeed
delightful to fall in thus with her. We had before us an hour and a
half’s sail with no one to disturb us; for the other two women were
her attendants and sat without saying a word. We spent the time in the
happiest of talk about the years during which we had not seen each
other, and during which we had left behind our girlhood, and crossed
the threshold of womanhood; for in the East we become women at an early
age.

After I had told her all about myself, at her insistence--she being the
elder, and I having therefore to tell my story first--I said:

“You are married now, I suppose. I remember you were to belong to a
young man in Anatolia, to whom you were betrothed when you were an hour
old, while he boasted of the great age of seven.”

She sighed. “No, I am not--not yet--although I am getting on in years.”

“Why are you waiting?” I inquired. All my French manners and training
had gone. I was again delightfully Oriental, asking personal questions
in the most direct way, as I had answered all that had been put to me.

“It is quite a story, and we are nearly there. Since you are not going
home, why not come to my house till to-morrow, where I can tell you all
about it?”

“I cannot,” I answered. “I must go to my relatives, or there will be
too much rumpus, if I am discovered.”

“Very well, then, drive with me first to my house; I will leave the
attendants there, tell my mother where I am going, and come with you.
In this way we shall have the whole afternoon together. My attendants
can call for me in the evening.”

That is how it happened that on reaching the island I drove in a closed
carriage with three veiled ladies to the _haremlik_ of Djamal
Pasha, and afterwards, with only one, arrived at my cousin’s house.

To my cousin I explained my plight and introduced Chakendé Hanoum.
There was no one at home except my cousin and her children. After
luncheon Chakendé and I went into the guest-room, where we made
ourselves comfortable in loose garments. She braided her long, thick
hair in two braids, and put a string of pearls, like a ribbon, over
her head. She had clad her slim, young figure in a loose, white
_pembezar_, made quite in French fashion. Cut a little low at the
neck, it displayed, besides another string of pearls, a throat full and
white, beautiful in shape and in its youthful freshness. She was so
good to look upon that I again bethought me of the man for whom she had
been destined.

“Now tell me why you are not married,” I said.

She laughed, and sighed again.

“Because he will not have me.”

“He, who?” I queried.

“The man I was engaged to when I was a baby.”

“Upon my word!” I cried with indignation.

“Now, Thunderstorm, you need not go ahead and blame him. His reasons
are excellent, as his face is kind and his figure straight--like a
cypress tree.”

“You have seen him then?”

“Yes, he has been in Constantinople for the past two years, and I have
seen him several times through the lattices of my window.”

“And he refuses to marry you?”

“He does.”

“On the ground----”

“That he does not know me. You see, he is tainted with European
culture, and he thinks a man ought to choose his own wife. I was chosen
for him: therefore he does not wish to marry me.”

“Why don’t you give him up and marry some one else? There are plenty
who would be glad to have you.”

She shook her head. “It so happens that I want him and no one else. And
what is more,” she added illogically, “I respect his reasons. He says
that he does not wish to be married to a woman he has not seen, and of
whose character he knows nothing.”

“Very well,” I remarked. “Since you respect his reasons, and since you
are modern enough yourself, why don’t you try to meet him unveiled
somewhere and have a chat with him?”

Dubiously she shook her head again. “I don’t know how to manage it. He
does not go to the Christian houses to which I go. Besides none of my
Greek friends would care to take the risk of arranging a meeting.”

“I’ll do it,” I declared.

Her face flushed with pleasure. “You are just the same madcap as ever.
Paris hasn’t robbed you of any of your spirit. How often I have wished
you were here--only I did not know whether you had become so wise that
you would not do foolish things any more.”

For some time we discussed the matter, though without arriving at any
feasible plan. At length I left her, radiantly cheerful, and went into
the nursery to lie down, in order to leave the guest-room entirely to
her. My little cousins, three in number, were already on their beds,
and I stretched myself out on the divan.

Instead of being cooler on the island, the oppression of the atmosphere
was more intense. There seemed something ominous in the heavy stillness
of the air, only broken by the noise of the yelling dogs in the
distance.

I was just beginning to dose off, when my couch swung to and fro like a
hammock.

My little eight year old cousin raised her head from her bed and stared
at me across the room.

“Alkmeny!” I said crossly, “don’t shake your bed, child. It shakes the
room most unpleasantly.”

“I thought it was _you_ shaking the room,” the child replied.

Then it occurred to me that it would take a giant to shake the huge
room. It was the second story of a rock house, with two foot thick
walls.

The room shook again, so violently that I bit the end of my tongue,
and for the moment thought of nothing except the pain of it. Then it
grew dark, like dusk, and there was a noise as if hundreds of baskets
of walnuts were being poured down the staircase. In the thick stone
walls cracks a foot wide appeared; the edges trembled, as if uncertain
whether to fall inside or out, and with a crash came together again.

The children were thrown out of their beds, and I gazed at them
passively. At this instant did some past incarnation of mine say the
word “earthquake!” or was the word really called by some one outside?
All I know is that “_seismos!_” rang in my ears, and with it
everything I had ever heard about earthquakes flashed into my mind.
“Don’t walk--crawl!” was the first thing, and obeying it I dropped to
the floor, caught up the youngest child in my arms, and told the other
two to cling to my gown. Then in a sitting position I worked my way out
of the room and down the stairs.

The floor was waving up and down, but we managed to get down the short
flight of steps. The noise meanwhile was deafening, and the darkness in
the house complete. When we reached the front door and were about to go
out, one of the maids pushed me violently aside and dashed out herself.
A part of the falling chimney struck her on the head, and she fell to
the ground, quite dead. I climbed over her body, still crawling, with
the child in my arms. My white _négligé_ was covered with the
maid’s blood, but this did not affect me at the time in the least. I
crawled on and on, while the terrific noises and the shaking continued,
always remembering that the safest place was the middle of the lawn--as
far from the house as possible. The children were holding tightly to my
dressing-gown, and they, too, were covered with the dead woman’s blood.

As we were scuttling along the ground, little four year old Chrysoula
cried out: “Cousin, my foot is caught!” One of the cracks in the
earth--which was opening and shutting--had her little foot imprisoned;
but in a second it opened again and her foot was free.

Fortunately, the house was surrounded by a large open lawn, otherwise
we might have been killed by the falling trees. In the middle of the
lawn we lay still, fascinated and bewildered. It was lighter out here
in the open, so that we could see what was taking place. I was not
consciously afraid. A kind of exaltation possessed me that I should be
there to see the wonderful, ghastly spectacle.

The Turks say that during an earthquake devils with fiery eyes fly
about the sky. And surely we saw them, only they must have been huge
stones, hurled into the air, which clashed together, giving forth
sparks that, for the fraction of a second, illumined their dark petrine
bodies. One of those devils fell with a crash on the stable. It went
through the roof, and in a few minutes the entire building was ablaze.

After this the earthquake proper ceased, but the earth still trembled,
so that the oldest child fell over on my lap two or three times; and
Chrysoula, who was sitting comically tilted back with her feet in
the air--her one thought being to keep them from catching again in
the earth-cracks--would tip over, and then scramble back into her
undignified position.

From the stable, now burning like a bonfire, a horse dashed madly out.
He was making directly for us when he fell, and lay where he fell. He
had stepped into an earth-crack and broken his leg, and had to be shot
afterwards.

Meanwhile the noises gradually lessened; but the air was filling with
smoke and the smell of the fires. My cousin’s house still stood,
apparently unhurt, except for the chimneys; but what a devastation
there was of those around us! They were mostly modern with new
anti-seismic devices, such as iron bands around them. All these were
lying in ruins, the irons twisted and warped, the walls shapeless heaps
of stones, beneath which were buried many of those who had loved them
and called them home. The old-fashioned houses, without the irons,
withstood the shocks better. When afterwards I went into my cousin’s
house, I found that most of the furniture was broken, the plastering
had all fallen, the pictures were down, and the cracks in the walls had
not come together smoothly.

During the earthquake we saw no one, except the maid that had been
killed. After an interval Chakendé, whom I had entirely forgotten, came
out of the house, her left arm bandaged and in a sling.

“I am hurt,” she said quietly, sitting down beside me; “but I have
bandaged it up and it is all right. I am troubled, though, about my
people, and it will be some time before it will be possible for me to
go to them, I suppose.”

Her manner was subdued, her face white, her eyes still frightened.

What seemed a very long time passed before the people began to come out
of the ruins of the houses. My cousin appeared, crying hysterically. On
seeing her children she stopped crying. “My God!” she screamed, “I have
children!” She had totally forgotten about them.

A few hours later my cousin’s husband arrived from Constantinople. The
boats, fortunately, had not been injured and were all running. He was
an official and brought out with him three young men, his subordinates,
two Greeks and a Turk. They told us that the damage in the town was
even worse than on the islands, so that we could expect to receive no
tents from the government that night.

The heat of the day had changed to cold, which, in our nervous
condition, we felt severely, and the two Greeks set about building a
fire and preparing something for us to eat.

Chakendé went up to the young Turk and spoke to him; then she came to
me.

“This young man is going to help me bury the maid,” she said. Both to
me and to the Turk she spoke in French, but it was not a day to think
of such trifles. “We have already carried her into the laundry-house,
and now we are going to dig a grave.”

Chakendé and the Turk went off to bury the Christian maid. It was
an odd fact that during this whole earthquake, while all other
nationalities were thinking of the living, it was the Turks mostly who
thought of the dead.

When they came back to me, who still had the care of the children, for
both my cousin and the maids were too hysterical to attend to them,
Chakendé said:

“We are thinking that if we can get several rugs we can put up some
kind of tents for the children and the rest of us to sleep under.”

“It is Mademoiselle who thought of that,” the young Turk said with
admiration, and I realized then, that he was far from guessing that she
was a Mussulman girl; for Chakendé, having nothing to cover her face
with, went about like a European.

“That’s a good idea,” I assented, “but who is going to get the rugs? It
will be difficult to make anyone go into the house.”

“I will go,” Chakendé said.

“Oh, no, mademoiselle!” the Turk protested. “This is a man’s work, not
a woman’s. It is a dangerous task, and besides rugs are heavy.”

She smiled. “But I shall go too. Come, monsieur, don’t lose any time.
The earth is quiet for the present.”

They left me, and on their return he was carrying a heavy pile of rugs,
while Chakendé had all the sheets and pillows she could manage with her
uninjured arm. The two of them proved remarkable tent-makers. One could
see that they came of a race which for centuries had lived in tents.
Not only did they put up one for my cousin’s family, but a little one
for Chakendé and myself. They disappeared again, and returned with
blankets. They made several trips into the house, until they had us
all fully supplied with bedding.

For one reared amid the seclusion of a harem she really was wonderful.
Her presence of mind, her fearlessness, and her resourcefulness
astonished me, engrossed though I was.

After we had had something to eat, and put the children to bed,
Chakendé, the young Turk and I went and sat down at a little
distance, and talked over the events of the day. None of us had any
desire for sleep, although it was late. The earth was still groaning
occasionally, and it was unpleasant to lie down, since one could hear
hideous rumblings and tremblings which gave one a curious feeling of
sea-sickness.

“What a day!” Chakendé exclaimed, after a long silence. There was a
certain exhilaration both in the voice and in the manner of the girl.
She seemed detached from the awfulness of it all, in spite of the
bloody wrappings on her arm.

The Turk hardly took his eyes from her and there was no mistaking
his condition. He had met the woman he was to remember till he died,
whether he ever saw her again or not.

Chakendé did not look in his direction. She sat erect, her head held
proudly above her lovely throat. She was even prettier than she had
been in the daytime.

Presently the young man spoke, addressing himself to her:

“Mademoiselle, we have worked together to-day, as companions--as
friends. I should like you to give me something to keep for the rest of
my life.”

“Monsieur only asks,” she replied, without looking at him, “he does not
offer to give anything to be remembered by.”

It was a weird night, one of those nights when people cannot be
conventional. In my place I made myself very small, trying to forget I
was present, as the two seemed to forget me.

“I, mademoiselle?” repeated the man, in a voice full of emotion. “I
have given you to-day all that is best in me. And whatever my life may
become that best will always belong to you.”

“And in exchange, Monsieur asks?” Chakendé said, still not turning
toward him.

“I only ask your name, mademoiselle. I should like to repeat it
daily--to have it be the nectar of my soul.”

“Since Monsieur asks so little, it would be cruel to deny him.”

She turned slowly around till her eyes met his. Distinctly she said:

“My name is Chakendé, and I am known as the only daughter of Djamal
Pasha.”

The young man gave a start. “You are--? You are----?”

She nodded. “The woman you have scorned for the past two years.” She
turned away, and gazed out into the darkness. In a minute she rose.
“Come, Thunderstorm,” she said to me, “I think we might as well go to
our tent.”

The young Turk rose, too, and barred her way respectfully.

“Hanoum Effendi,” he said, speaking in Turkish now, “I love you--will
you be my wife?”

“Does the effendi think it would be so great an honour?” she asked,
with a little catch in her voice.

“It would be an honour for me; it would give me the privilege of
worshipping you, of protecting you, of taking away all thorns from your
path, and of strewing it with roses. I ask to be allowed to be your
servant, as you are the mistress of my soul.”

“The effendi speaks very beautifully,” she commented.

“I love you!” he cried. “I love you!”

She gave him her right hand, and he, bending as a worshipper, touched
it with his lips; then as a man he drew her to him, and covered her
hair and her eyes and her lips with his kisses.

When Chakendé and I retreated to the little tent arranged for us, the
young Turk lay down on the ground outside, across the doorway. Chakendé
on her rug prayed to Allah, her uninjured arm upstretched with the palm
toward heaven. After she had finished she turned to me.

“Dear little Thunderstorm,” she said, “it has been a horrible day, a
devastating day, a life-taking day, but ah!--to me it has been the most
wonderful day of my life.”



CHAPTER XVII

A GREAT LADY OF STAMBOUL


The earthquake subsided, and little by little people began to forget
its terrors. Some who had old-fashioned houses plucked up courage to
enter them, then to abandon their tents and stay in them. One day some
young people laughed, and others echoed their laughter. Gradually the
older people began to laugh, too; and the terrible shock which had
killed so many thousands and unnerved so many more began to lose its
hold upon the imagination of the people.

Before the month was over life became normal, and we talked of
ordinary, everyday things. One day as I was sitting by my mother,
making lace, she casually remarked:

“Nashan is going to be married, you know.”

Of all my Turkish friends Nashan was the one my mother liked best.
Perhaps this was because she felt she had a share in her bringing up,
since the day on which she had been summoned by Nashan’s mother to pass
judgment on the little girl’s clothes--the little girl whose raiment I
had compared to that of a _saltimbanque_, when she had thought
that she was dressed like a great lady.

“Oh, is she?” I cried, a trifle hurt. “She has not even written to me
that she is engaged. I am afraid she cannot care for her marriage.”

I hastened to call on her. She received me in her French boudoir,
faultlessly dressed in a Parisian gown, her hair done in the fashion
prevalent in Europe at the time. We were so glad to see each other that
at first we forgot about the marriage. Finally I asked about it.

Boundless became her indignation. “He is an Asiatic!” she cried, with
undisguised horror. “They are giving me to a man who cannot understand
a word of French, to a man who is an _arriéré_--who believes in
the subjection of women! They are handing me over to an unknown, who
has not touched my heart--merely because our fathers decided that
we should become husband and wife. And this Anatolian--this man who
has lived all his life in an uncivilized country--has come to claim
me--_me_, as his wife.”

Since her indignation could rise no higher, it toppled over in a
torrent of tears. She laid her blonde head in my lap, and wept. And I
wept with her, because she was eighteen and I was sixteen, and life
seemed so full of tragedy. How dreadful the world looked to us in that
hour--and how we hated our elders.

She had lost her mother, her only support, as, long ago, I had lost
my father. We had an orgy of tears, which cleared the atmosphere, and
helped the barometer to rise. The courage of youth returned to us.

“What do you intend to do?” I asked.

“I thought of dying,” she said simply, but “I don’t want to. I hate to
die. Life is so interesting, and I am so healthy.” Inconsequently she
added: “Come and see my trousseau.”

No French girl could have had a Frenchier one. No Parisian a more
Parisian one. If the father was imposing an Anatolian husband upon her,
he was generous in his supply of European accessories. She and I forgot
our troubles in admiring and gloating over the creations just arrived
from Paris.

“And now look!” she cried, in a tone of loathing. She opened a closet
and drew forth a chest, richly inlaid. From its heart she took several
garments: they were Anatolian--even more Oriental than if they had
been Turkish. She threw them on the floor, and stamped upon them. “His
grandmother is insulting me with these. She thinks _that_ is the
way _I_ dress--I, a European to my finger-tips.”

I picked up the despised garments and examined them with curiosity
mingled with admiration. The straight, stiff tunics of home-spun silks,
the jackets reaching below the knees, spun by hand and fantastically
embroidered in a riot of colour were full of oriental poetry.

“But they are truly lovely,” I cried. “They’re better than your French
clothes. Any woman would look adorable in them. I wish you would wear
them.”

Nashan only snatched them from my hands and stamped on them again.

As the date of her marriage drew near, I heard that there were scenes
of rebellion and tears of helplessness, but her father held fast to
his purpose, and the marriage took place. I did not go to it. I was
engrossed with my own troubles at the time, and besides I did not wish
to be present at what I considered the immolation of a woman.

Two days after the wedding, a note reached me from her saying: “Will
you come and spend the day with me?”

I went to her new home in Stamboul--fortunately free from his relatives
since these all lived in Anatolia. She was seated in a vast, bare,
oriental room which contrasted strangely with her French gown and
Parisian coiffure. There were no traces of tears on her face such as I
had expected to find; her pupils only seemed larger, and her eyes were
shining with a combativeness which I had felt was in her, but which I
had not encountered before.

Silently we embraced each other.

“Is he dreadful?” I whispered.

“I don’t even know how he looks,” she replied. “I have not favoured him
with a glance. He has not been able to make me speak to him, and you
know that according to our laws, so long as I remain silent, he has no
rights over me.”

“Do you mean to keep it up till he becomes discouraged and divorces
you?”

Before she had time to answer, one of her slaves came in.

“The _tchelebi_ [master] is asking if he may see you.”

I rose to leave the room.

“Don’t go,” she begged.

I sat down, a very uncomfortable little person. Nashan crossed her
slender hands on her lap and waited. Her eyes were firmly fixed on the
floor; her lips compressed, as for eternal silence.

He came in. I do not know why I expected to see a grown-up man, with
man’s tyrannical power stamped on his brutal features. What entered
was a boy, a timid moustache sprouting on his lip. He was tall and
good-looking, but almost paralysed with shyness.

He looked at nothing except his wife, and his face shone with all the
love he felt for her, with all the dreams he must have made about this
one woman, whom he had never seen till the day of his wedding.

We are apt to think only of the woman’s side, and few of us ever give
a thought to what may be the man’s disappointment, the man’s crushed
ideals in his marriage. Because he bears it like a man, because he
makes the best of what fate has allotted him, often without a word of
complaint, we think that the tragedy of marriage is entirely one-sided.

That day, as the young fellow came in, shy and awkward, carrying a
small bundle in his hand, prejudiced though I was against him, I
somehow felt that there was his side, too. Perhaps it was his extreme
youth, his good looks, which touched me; or perhaps it was the
expression of misery on his face. Poets and writers have written about
the woman’s heart-break, but it is the sorrow of the strong which
contains the most pathos.

He timidly took his seat at a distance from her, and fingered the
little parcel on his knee.

An oppressive silence fell upon us, I furtively watching the youth, he
longingly gazing at his bride. Finally he began to undo his parcel, and
his movements were so like those of a little boy that I was ready to
weep for him.

The parcel disclosed a beautifully embroidered pair of Turkish
slippers. I suppose they were the prettiest he could buy, but even at a
glance I knew that they were far too large for Nashan.

He rose and advanced timidly, his offering in his hand.

“I brought you these,” he said pleadingly. He looked at the slippers
and then at her. “They were so lovely I could not help buying them for
you.”

He sat down on the floor at her feet, and tried to bring the slippers
within her notice.

“Let me put them on your pretty feet,” he begged.

She neither replied, nor by the slightest movement betrayed that
she was aware of his existence. She was sitting on a chair, like a
European. Her knees were crossed, and one foot dangled before him, as
if inviting the new slippers.

By a tremendous effort he summoned up courage to slip the Turkish
slipper on her foot, over the French shoe, and even then it was too
large. It hung suspended for a minute from her unresponsive toe, and
fell to the floor.

I laughed more from nervousness than from mirth.

He turned a troubled, inquiring countenance toward me, and then back to
his wife.

“Why is she mocking me? Have I done anything ridiculous?”

He appeared more than ever like a frightened little boy. He leaned
toward her as if he wished to hide behind her skirt, every movement
seeming to beg for protection.

The stony expression left Nashan’s face. She no longer ignored his
existence. What was fine, womanly, maternal in her character became
alive.

She put her arm round his shoulder.

“Why are you laughing?” she demanded quietly of me in French. “If he
were a Christian dog he would have known many women, and he would be
aware of the sizes of their feet. But he is only a clean Osmanli boy,
and, as you see, I am the first woman he has ever seen, besides his
mother.”

It was a new Nashan: not the europeanized Nashan, with her foreign
veneer, but a real woman, the one who had once said to me: “I am sure
of the existence of Allah, because he manifests himself so quickly in
me.” Unmistakably at that moment God was manifesting Himself in her.

I rose to go. She rose, too, and so did the man, who had picked up his
slippers and held them fast to his heart. He had not understood a word
of the French that had passed between us.

“I bought you these because I thought maybe you would like them,” he
repeated.

“I like them very much indeed,” she said, taking them from him.

“They are not so pretty, perhaps, as the ones you have on; but they are
exactly like those my dead mother used to wear, when I was a little boy
and played on her lap.”

She listened to him attentively, deferentially, her eyes raised to his.
Then she turned to me, who was already going.

“Don’t go just yet, dear. I beg of you to remain a few minutes.” To her
husband: “My lord, will you make my friend feel at home, while I am
gone a little while? I have just been hard to her, because she was rude
to you; but I do not think she meant to be.”

Nashan was gone from the room only a short time, yet I hardly
recognized her on her return. She was dressed in one of the oriental
gowns his grandmother had sent her, and which she had despised and
trampled upon. Her French coiffure had disappeared. A Turkish veil was
arranged on her head, in the strict oriental fashion for indoors, and
on her feet, somehow, she had fastened his slippers.

She bowed low before her husband.

“These, my master, are the garments your honourable grandmother sent
me. I hope you like me in them.”

He could not speak, nor was there any need; for his face was a
worshipful prayer.

She turned to me with a proud little toss of her head.

“Am I a great lady?” she asked as of old, with whimsical seriousness,
“or am I a _saltimbanque_?”

“You are indeed a great lady,” I said--and I meant it.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE INVENTIVENESS OF SEMMEYA HANOUM


It was from curiosity rather than from friendship that I accepted
Semmeya Hanoum’s pressing invitation to spend a few days with her,
shortly after Nashan’s wedding. As I said in a previous chapter, we
had never looked on Semmeya as one of us. We did not trust her, and
where there is no trust how can there be friendship? Still, since I
was burning to know what sort of a wife she had made, I replied to her
pressing invitation with alacrity.

I did not have to wait very long before I knew that Semmeya Hanoum was
the same as ever--that she would rather cheat than play fair. She was
the mother of a dear, little boy; and it was easy to see that Sendi Bey
was the slave of his wife. At the same time it required no cleverness
on my part to discover that he did not trust her, and did not believe
her word.

I have always wondered, and I suppose that I shall continue to wonder
till I die, and learn the explanation of many riddles, how it is that a
good, upright man can remain in love with a woman whom he cannot trust.
On the contrary, it often seems as if the less confidence a man has in
his wife, the more in love he remains with her.

On the second morning of my arrival, nature outside was making
herself beautiful as if to pose for her portrait. We had finished our
breakfast, and were sitting on a couch together when her husband came
in, a dark cloud on his forehead. He gave his wife a severe look, which
Semmeya met with the candour of an angel.

“I am delighted to see you so early, my Bey Effendi,” she said sweetly.
“I hope you have slept well,” and as he remained standing, she
continued: “Won’t you sit down by us, my Effendi?”

“Beauty!” thundered the man, “why did you misbehave yesterday afternoon
while you were out driving?”

An expression of utter amazement overspread her features.

“Don’t trouble yourself to deny it--you know that it is true,” the
husband continued, striving to master his anger.

She shrugged her slim shoulders, and the impertinent movement was
attractive. Intrinsically she was not a beautiful woman, but she had
charm, and the man speaking to her was in love with her. And she knew
it.

“You know you did it,” he persisted.

Impatiently she tapped the floor with her satin-clad foot. I hate to
witness marital disagreements, so I rose to go; but Semmeya caught my
dress and imperiously pulled me back into my seat.

“Beauty,” the man reiterated, with rising anger, “you know you did it.”

She continued to look out of the latticed window, down on the waters of
the Golden Horn. Her profile was turned to her husband. This was the
prettiest view of her, and the one she always presented to him when
she wished to dominate him--she told me so herself. Her wavy hair was
loosely combed back on her neck, and a red rose was carelessly placed
a little below her pretty ear. She was dressed in a soft green silk
garment, the diaphanous sleeves displaying her well-shaped arms. Her
slim but well-rounded neck was bare, and one could see that she was in
a temper by the way the veins stood out on her throat.

“You did it, Beauty,” the man persisted in an even monotone that
sounded like the approach of the storm.

I rose for the second time to go, but the hand, more imperious than
before, pulled me down again; then the owner of the hand snapped out:

“Since you believe the word of the eunuch against mine, and you are
so certain I did it, why do you wish me to verify it? Begone, man,
begone!”

“But I want you to tell me why you threw the flowers at the
Englishman,” her husband demanded. He turned to me and asked, “Do you
think it is nice for a woman to throw flowers at a strange man?”

Before I could reply, she calmly said, “It is not true.”

“That you threw flowers at a man?”

She nodded.

“Did she or did she not?” he asked me.

“She did,” I answered.

“You wretch!” Semmeya Hanoum cried. “I only threw a rose, and a rose is
singular, not plural. Besides, how do you know that I threw it at the
man? I might have just thrown it away--and it might have happened to
strike his face by accident.”

“I suppose you happened to kiss the rose by accident, too?” Sendi Bey
inquired grimly.

“Why not? I often kiss roses.” She looked at him with laughing
defiance. “And now what will you do, my lord?”

“I should like to give you a good thrashing.”

“You can’t. It is forbidden by the Koran.”

“I know it, and I am very sorry. But, Beauty, your actions are getting
unbearable; and I am going to put a stop to them. For a month you are
not to leave this house without my permission.” With these words he
marched out of the room.

She turned to me. “I should like to find out whether he will really
give orders that I am not to leave the house. Make ready to go out, and
we shall see.”

She was waiting for me with a slave when I came to her room, and
together we went down the hall. There stood the eunuch with his back to
the door, looking determined to die at his post, if necessary.

“Silly, come with us. We are going out for a walk,” Semmeya said
casually.

He salaamed to the floor, but did not stir. She spoke to him more
sharply, and again he salaamed. No matter what she said, he salaamed.

Ignominiously at last she retreated to her room. She sat down and
pondered over the situation earnestly. For once, I thought, she would
have to acknowledge herself beaten.

At length she sprang to her feet, and I looked up expectantly, but she
only told me to take off my wraps, since we should be unable to go out.
She stepped out of the room, and I heard her whispering to her slave
outside. Presently she re-entered the room briskly.

“When the eunuch comes up, tell him to wait a minute, if I am not here.
And meanwhile make yourself as comfortable as you can.”

I took a French novel from the table, became interested in it, and had
quite forgotten our state of siege when the eunuch spoke to me.

“Wait a minute.” I answered, hardly hearing what he said. “Semmeya
Hanoum will be back in a minute.”

He took up his station in the doorway, commanding both the room and
the hall, and waited, listening intently. After a long while he went
downstairs.

Again I was absorbed in my book when the eunuch returned, panting and
frightened.

“My mistress! My mistress!” he shouted.

“What is it, stupid? What has happened to your mistress?”

“She has gone!”

“Gone where?”

“Away! Out of the house!” he wailed. “She has outwitted both of
us--myself and Yussuf at the gate of the garden. He was called away for
a minute, and when he came back, my mistress had disappeared. Ai! ai!
it was magic.”

“Well, don’t stand there wailing; run and tell your master,” I said
impatiently.

He looked at me in abject terror. “My master! I dare not. He would kill
me.”

“Then send for him, and I will tell him.”

“And you will tell him that I faithfully obeyed his orders,” he
implored, “and that she did not escape through any negligence on my
part?”

Even after I had reassured him on these points he departed trembling,
and I went down to the parlour to await Sendi Bey. In a few minutes he
came, and I told him what had happened. He cross-examined me, became
convinced that I knew nothing of his wife’s movements, and sent for the
unhappy man at the gate, Yussuf.

“Why did you not run after your mistress?” he demanded sternly.

“I did, your Excellency, but she was nowhere to be seen. There was not
a house where she could have entered, or a place where she could have
hidden; but she was not in sight. I do not see how she could have run
so fast. It is magic!”

Sendi Bey dismissed the man, then called the slaves and the eunuch, and
ordered them to search the house, which they did without result. Then
he gave orders that no one was to enter or leave the house without his
permission, and that when the mistress returned she was to wait at the
gate till he had spoken to her.

After we were alone together again, he exclaimed gleefully: “For once
she has put herself in my power. On her return I shall go to the gate
and make my conditions, and if she does not agree to them, she cannot
come in.”

“But suppose she does not agree to them, and prefers not to come in?” I
asked.

He laughed. “For once,” he repeated, “she has put herself in my power.
If she does not agree, she will lose all her rights over her boy,
since she left the house against my orders. She loves the boy, and she
will agree. Now is the time to put an end to her coquettishness.”

Whatever satisfaction Sendi Bey and the absent, rebellious Semmeya
Hanoum might find in the situation, for me it was rather uncomfortable.
I was not able to go even into the garden, and ate a solitary luncheon
and then dinner, all the slaves being at their posts to prevent any
entry or egress. After finishing my novel, I was just preparing to go
to bed when a slave came to me.

“My master would like to see you downstairs if you will be so good,”
she said.

There was no one in the parlour when I arrived there, but presently the
master came in from the _selamlik_.

“What can I do for you?” he asked.

“Why, nothing,” I replied. “I am perfectly comfortable, although the
situation is not.”

He looked at me with a puzzled air.

“Why did you send for me?”

“I didn’t. I was told that you wished to see me.”

“There must be some mistake,” he said, and pulled the velvet rope of
the bell. As if in answer to the ring, in sauntered Semmeya Hanoum, as
cool as a cucumber, cigarette in hand, and apparently just back from
her expedition, since she was still in outdoor dress.

We both stared at her in amazement.

“Hullo, Blossom,” she said to me. “Sorry to have left you alone all
day.”

She elaborately ignored her husband. After an instant’s stupefaction he
strode across the room, took her chin in his hand, and lifted her face.

“Where have you been?” he demanded.

She snatched her head away from his hand, and dropped him an
extravagant French curtsy. “Where I pleased, my master.”

The man was shaking with anger.

“How did you get in?”

She waved her gloved hand towards the hall. “Ring the bell--call in
your servants--find out.”

“To make a bigger fool of myself?”

“Why not, since you were willing to belittle me before them, by your
silly orders this morning? You told the eunuch not to let me go out,
and when I returned, I had to use a ruse to enter my own home, where
my baby boy is. You are a brute and a jealous fiend, and I am the most
unhappy of wives,” and thereupon she burst into the most pathetic
sobbing, and threw herself upon me, holding me fast to her.

“Why, Beauty,” he expostulated in tender tones, “you know I have never
been unkind to you, and this is the first time I have even thought of
punishing you.”

She continued to sob without abatement. He came near us, and timidly
tried to take her in his arms. To my surprise she went to him like a
lamb, kissing him and crying, and I slipped out of the room, once more
convinced that men were mere babes in the hands of designing women.

That night I waited in vain for her to come and tell me where she had
been, and while waiting I fell asleep. After breakfast the next morning
she came to my room, beaming, and looking prettier than ever.

“Siege is raised,” she cried, sitting down cross-legged on the rug.
“Blossom of the almond-tree, we can go for a picnic to any cemetery we
like, and I am to have a pair of horses all my own, and the loveliest
low victoria that France can manufacture.” She put her finger-tips
together, and looked up at me enjoying the effect of her words, and
continued: “I am also going to have a bigger allowance, and when I have
a little girl, I may give her a French name. In exchange, I shall not
throw kissed roses to anyone, and I am not going to fib for a long,
long time.”

She swayed forward till her forehead touched the floor, and giggled so
delightedly that I had to join her.

“The poor dear!” she went on, after her laughter had subsided. “If I
told him the truth for a week, he would cease to find me interesting. I
should be a tame creature--not the woman he is in love with. Oh, dear!
all men are alike.”

“You don’t know so very many men.” I suggested.

“Not actually, Blossom mine, not actually; but a woman retains the
knowledge of her previous existences far better than a man. That is
what her intuition is. I have been a wife for thousands of years. Think
of the husbands I have had! I know all about men. Why, sometimes I can
write down Sendi’s words before they leave his lips; and, as for his
actions, I know them before he even conceives them.”

“But what I want to know is how you got out of the house yesterday, and
then how you got in again.”

She looked at me with amused pity.

“Blossom, you are just about as stupid as a man--just about. I never
left the house; I couldn’t.”

I stared. “But they searched high and low----”

“Not very low, my dear, not very low; for if they had, they would have
found us down in the cistern, in the baskets we keep the things cool
in. We almost touched the water--and we were cool, I can tell you.” And
she went into peals of infectious laughter that carried me along with
her.

“Did you tell him?” I asked when our amusement had subsided.

“Oh, what a goose you are, dear! Of course I did not. He will have
that riddle in the depths of his heart to torment him--until I give him
a fresh one.”

I attempted to lecture her, but she closed my lips with a kiss and
adjured me not to be a simpleton until nature turned me into a man.



CHAPTER XIX

THE CHIVALRY OF ARIF BEY


Up to now I have only spoken of the women of Turkey, because such are
the conditions there that men and women do not mingle freely.

By the Western world Turkish men are held in low estimation: it may be
with reason, and it may be merely out of ignorance. One of the episodes
of my life deals with a Turkish man, the Arif Bey who used to come to
our house as my brother’s friend, when I was a little girl, and who for
awhile got mixed in my head with the Greek demi-gods. I had not seen
him for years. Once I had asked my brother about him. He had only told
me that he was now a pasha, and then changed the conversation.

My brother and I were invited to spend a week in Constantinople with
some friends, the Kallerghis. Our host was a charming, dashing man of
over forty, one of the few remaining members of a formerly rich and
powerful Greek family. He was a Turkish official, and the only support
of a bedridden mother, to whom he was so devoted that on her account he
remained a bachelor.

He was very fond of talking, perhaps because he told a story so well,
or perhaps because, being of an adventurous disposition, he had been
in many a scrape. One night, he told us of his experience when, in
disguise, he had managed to penetrate into the _tekhe_ of the
dervishes of Stamboul and witness one of their secret ceremonies. It
was one to which the most orthodox Mussulmans alone were admitted,
and a Christian took his life in his hand if he tried to be present.
He described the ceremony as something weird but not unpleasant, as
something worth seeing.

There are people in the world who add splendour to whatever they
describe, a splendour which is in their hearts and minds and not in the
seen thing. Such a man was Damon Kallerghis.

In the silence that followed his words, the tapping of the hour by
the _bektchi_, on his nightly rounds, came to us from sleeping
Constantinople outside.

“And how often do the ceremonies occur?” I asked, breathless with the
interest he had aroused.

“Twice a year. The next one will be in six weeks.”

That night I could not sleep for the haunting remembrance of the
uncanny wonders to which I had listened. I did not even go to bed.
Sitting by the window I looked at the white minarets, faintly gleaming
against the dark blue oriental sky. Yonder was Stamboul with its
mysteries and its charm. Which of all those graceful peaks reared
itself above the mosque of the dervishes? My desire to see that of
which I had heard grew ever stronger as the hours passed, until I could
stay quiet no longer.

My brother’s room was next to mine. To it I went, and with the
unscrupulous cruelty of my age, I woke him.

He jumped up, rubbing his eyes. “What is it, child? Are you ill?”

“No,” I said, settling myself on the foot of his bed. “Brother, I want
to go to the dervishes’ dance next month.”

“Upon my word!” he exclaimed. “Go back to bed at once, or I shall think
you have gone crazy.”

“Brother, you have got to say that you are going to take me there.”

My brother was thoroughly awake by this time. He looked at me with a
kind of despair.

“But didn’t you hear how dangerous it was--even for Damon Kallerghis?
As for your going, you might as well prance off to prison at once.”

“I don’t mind going to prison, if I can see the dervishes first,” I
persisted.

My brother, as I have said, was fourteen years older than I. He
had been my playfellow and my instructor, and was now my guardian.
Unfortunately, he was neither stern with me nor prudent himself. I
knew that I could make him grant me this wish if I only stuck to it
long enough; and when I returned to my room, an hour later, I went to
sleep delighted with the thought of the extracted promise.

The next six weeks passed slowly, although we were busy with a number
of preparations. We had, of course, to be provided with Turkish
clothes, correct in every particular; and since, according to Osmanli
custom, a lady never goes abroad alone, at least two other women, on
whose courage and discretion we could count, had to be enlisted. It was
not difficult to find men to accompany us. Any enterprise, the aim of
which was to outwit the Turks, could not but appeal to Greeks. The two
young men whom we chose were both government officials, but this did
not in the least abate their enthusiasm for the enterprise.

At last the night of nights arrived. We met at the Kallerghis house,
dressed there, and stole down the back way to two carriages awaiting
us. These took us to the Galata Bridge, whence we proceeded on foot. A
faithful manservant, dressed in the Anatolian _salvhar_, headed
the procession, carrying a lantern. We women came next, and our escorts
followed a little way behind, since Turkish women never walk in company
with men.

Stamboul in the daytime is clamorous and overcrowded. The hundred and
one cries of its pedlars and shopkeepers come at one from all quarters,
and in half the languages of the earth, while one can hardly move about
for the congestion of people. At night it is as silent and dark as
the tomb. As we hurried along the narrow, crooked streets, we heard
the occasional tramp of the night patrol, the sharp yelps of the dogs
at their scavenger work, and that was all. I had never before seen
Stamboul at night, and I doubt whether I shall ever wish to see it
again.

I began to realize the enormity of our enterprise, and to appreciate
that, had my brother been of a less adventurous temperament or a more
careful guardian, we should never have been where we were at that hour.
As we stumbled along over ill-paved alleys, which little deserved to
be called streets, the bravery with which I had confronted the idea
of possible dangers oozed out of me. Nursery tales of the ferocity of
the Turks recurred to a mind which the consciousness of doing wrong
made susceptible to fear. We were on our way to steal into a mosque,
the door of which was strictly closed against us. We were dressed in
Turkish clothes, and Christian women were forbidden under a heavy
penalty to dress as Turks, except in the company of Turkish women.
We were all Greeks, and the Turks had been our hereditary enemies
since 1453. Had I had the courage at this juncture to demand that we
returned, as I had insisted on coming, I should have been spared one
of the most terrifying nights of my life; but I lacked this, and my
shaky legs marched on through the unnamed and unnumbered streets to our
destination.

The man who had been the primary cause of our risky enterprise awaited
us at the arched gateway of the _tekhe_. He signalled us to follow
him, and we entered an ill-lighted outer courtyard. Thence we went down
a steep staircase to an inner one that must have been considerably
below the street level. My recollections of our movements for the next
few minutes are hazy. We walked through one crooked corridor after
another till we came to what looked like an impasse. A young dervish
was standing so flat against the wall that I did not notice him until
Damon Kallerghis made a sign to him, to which he responded. He lifted
the heavy leather _portière_, which I had taken to be the solid
wall, and permitted us to pass under it, and, as it seemed to me,
beyond any human protection. Up to this moment it was still possible
for us to turn back; but when that leather _portière_ closed
behind us, we were in the dark _tekhe_ itself.

An insane fear seized me. What if our guide had entrapped us here to
our destruction? I did not stop to reflect how much persuasion it had
required to get him to conduct us on this hair-brained escapade: I was
simply afraid, and my fear robbed me of every vestige of common sense.
Fortunately, beyond trembling till my teeth chattered, I attempted
nothing.

A few yards farther over the stone floor, and we were pushed into a
stall, and another leather _portière_ closed us in. This was
the end of our journey. The front of the stall was covered with
lattice-work, and through its holes we could look down into a cavernous
square arena, dark, save for a big charcoal fire smouldering in the
middle. Around the arena ran an arcade, and under it we presently made
out the reclining forms of many dervishes of different orders, and
numerous Mohammedan pilgrims, quietly smoking. The stall on our right
and left must also have been occupied, for we heard the scuffling of
feet on the floor, and then silence.

I really cannot say how long we sat on our low stools, looking down on
the weird scene beneath us, before the oppressive silence was broken
by a fearfully plaintive sound which seemed to come from far away, and
which, for lack of a better word, I shall have to call music. On and
on it went, rising and falling, monotonous, dull, and melancholy. It
penetrated the whole place, seeming to drug the atmosphere, till one
felt as if any phantasmagoria of the brain might be real.

It had another effect, this dreadful, insistent sound. After a few
minutes a desire to shriek, even to bite, came over me, and I began
rhythmically to tear my _feredjé_ in time to the music.

From this condition I was roused by a strident yell, and looked
through the lattice with renewed attention. The arena was beginning
to fill with long-cloaked dervishes carrying lighted torches. A mat
was spread near the charcoal fire, and on this the sheik, or abbot, of
the brotherhood took his place, cross-legged. The nerve-racking music
ceased while he offered a short prayer.

When this was over, other dervishes came into the arena, received
torches, and ranged themselves under the archways, like caryatides.
The maddening music started again, and the dervishes, joining hands,
made the round of the enclosure in a slow, dancing step, somewhat
like the step of a dancing bear, gradually increasing the violence of
their movements. Then each one took off his _taj_, or head-dress,
kissed it and passed it over to the sheik. The music grew faster, but
lower in tone, and more infuriating. The dervishes, with heads bowed
and shoulders bent, danced more wildly about the smouldering fire. The
long cloaks were thrown aside, and the men appeared, naked, except for
the band around their waists, from which hung long knives. They threw
out their arms, as if in supplication, and bent back their heads in
terrible contortions. Yells of “_Ya Hou!_” and “_Ya Allah!_”
mingled with the music.

Little by little the men lost every vestige of resemblance to human
beings. They were creatures possessed by a demoniac madness. They
shrieked and yelled inarticulately, their voices blending curiously
well with the hellish music. When their frenzy reached its climax,
they drew their knives from their belts and began stabbing themselves.
The blood trickled down over their bodies, and added to the sinister
aspect of the scene. After a while some of them threw themselves into
the fire, and then with ferocious yelps jumped out of it. Others, as if
they were hungry wolves, and the fire their prey, fell upon it and ate
the lighted charcoal. The smell of burning flesh was added to the smell
of sweat and blood, and made the close air almost unbearable.

When at last they could whirl no more, yell no more, stab themselves
and eat fire no more, one by one they fell to the ground. The music
became ever faster and fainter, as if it were agonizing with the men
who danced to it, until, as the last man collapsed, it, too, ceased.
The sheik then rose from his mat and went from one prostrate form to
another, breathing into their faces, and ministering to their wounds.
He who died on such a night, it was said, would become a saint.

Dazed and shaken, we left our stall and stumbled along the corridors
until we reached the entrance. There were other people, and I was
vaguely aware of cries and sobs, but heeded nothing. I wished to get
out of the _tekhe_ as if my salvation depended on it. At the outer
door I gave a great sigh of relief, and ran on after our Anatolian with
his lantern.

I was by no means myself yet, but a feeling of relief came upon me when
the cold, damp air of the night struck my face. I was trying to get
away from the music, which still clung to my nerves. For a considerable
time I walked on until a hand touched my shoulder. Startled, I turned,
and by the light of the moon, which had risen, looked into the eyes of
a veiled woman who was a stranger to me. Other veiled forms surrounded
me, none of whom I knew.

“Hanoum effendim,” said the one who had touched me, smiling, “I am
afraid you have lost your party, and by mistake have come with ours.”

Her words were like a cold but revivifying bath.

“I must have done so,” I replied, trying to avoid much conversation. “I
will go back.”

“Come with us for the night,” she suggested.

Thanking her, I took to my heels. I had not paid much attention to
the crooked streets traversed thus far, and as I absolutely lack the
sense of location I must now have gone in some other direction than
that of the _tekhe_; for after long running back and forth, and
hiding in the by-streets whenever I heard anyone approaching, I came
to the awful conclusion that I could not find the _tekhe_, and,
alone and unprotected, was lost in the streets of Stamboul. I wondered,
too, what the others were doing. Afterward I learned that, when they
got to the entrance, one of the women of our party had fainted, and,
to avoid danger, they had hidden in a dark passage while waiting for
her to come to her senses. In their excitement they did not notice my
disappearance, and when they found it out they searched everywhere,
finally deciding that the others should go home while my brother and
one of the men hid near the _tekhe_, thinking that sooner or later
I should turn up there. It was only in the early morning that they went
away, hoping that by some lucky chance I had returned to the house.

Meanwhile I was roaming far from the _tekhe_, exposed to all kinds
of dangers. I grew desperate. Horrible stories of the Greek Revolution
recurred to my mind: how our women were tortured to death by the Turks,
and how others, to avoid shame and torture, had thrown themselves into
the sea. If I could only reach the water! With that idea in my mind
I ran in the direction in which I thought the sea lay. Fragments of
prayer taught me in childhood, and long forgotten for lack of use, came
back to me, and I began to pray. I was glad for the many saints in the
Greek Faith to whom I could appeal. I tried to remember where in the
church was the particular niche of each of the saints. It took my mind
from my danger, and gave it a definite object, as I hurried on.

Into the intensity of my prayers there broke the muffled sound of
leather boots. The night patrol was on its rounds. I stood still.
To all appearances I was a Turkish woman, alone in the streets. The
patrol would arrest me. What if I threw away the _feredjé_ and the
_yashmak_? Though as a Turkish woman I should be taken to prison,
what my fate would be as a Christian I did not know, and the unknown
fate was the more terrifying. The Turkish garb was my danger, but also
my momentary protection.

I drew the black silk about me. While waiting for the approach of the
night patrol, my mind worked quickly. I must belong to some man’s
harem, either as lady or slave. I was afraid that I might not act
meekly enough for a slave; then it must be as somebody’s wife. Whose
should it be? The tall, stalwart figure of Arif Bey flashed across my
mind’s eye. He had had two wives when I knew him: he probably had more
now--and besides I knew where his town house was.

By the time the patrol came near me I felt quite safe in the thought
of the dashing figure and handsome face of the man I had chosen as my
husband. I walked up to the patrol, though I was swallowing hard, and
told them that I was lost, and wished them to take me to the police
station and send for Arif Pasha, my husband. I addressed myself to the
man who appeared to be the officer of the small band, and spoke very
low, in order that he might not detect any hesitancy in my Turkish.

He saluted in military fashion, divided his few men into two
groups, and between them escorted me to the police-station. There a
consultation took place between him and his superior, and the latter
asked me where I had been, and how I had happened to lose my party.

I smiled sweetly at him. “I shall tell that to my husband, and he will
tell you, if he thinks best.”

This was so admirable a wifely sentiment that it left my inquisitor
bereft of questions.

“It is a long way to your house,” he remarked. “It may take some hours
for your husband to come here.”

“That does not matter, if you will only send for him.”

He took me to a large room and locked me inside. I had no means of
knowing whether he would send for Arif Pasha or not, but I argued to
myself that the name was too big for a policeman to trifle with. It
remained to be seen whether the pasha would come at the summons, or
would first go into his _haremlik_ to find out whether one of his
wives were really missing. And if he had several homes, as rich Turks
often have, would he be at the address I gave, or would he be with
another wife at another house, or possibly not even in the town?

My thoughts were far from pleasant. I sat on my stool praying to my
Maker as I have never done before or since. I thought that after this
experience I should become a very wise and careful woman. Alas!

The night grew older, and the greyish light gradually pierced the
darkness, as I disconsolately wondered what would happen to me.

There were steps outside, the key turned, and Arif Pasha entered the
room, and shut the door behind him.

My father used to say: “Don’t be humble with the Turks. Ask them what
you want, and ask it as your right.”

“Please be seated, Arif Pasha,” I said, “and I will tell you all about
it.”

“And, pray, who are you?” he asked.

“I will tell you that also,” I answered, with as confident a manner as
I was able to assume.

He drew up a stool and sat down opposite me. Then I told him the whole
adventure, adding that I had sent for him to get me out of the scrape.

When I had finished, he threw back his head and laughed heartily. “So
you are my wife, are you?” he exclaimed.

I laughed, too, tremendously relieved that he was not angry with me.

“I remember you well now,” he went on, “and, if you are not any better
disciplined than you were a few years ago, you will make a troublesome
handful of a wife,” and again he roared. “I told your precious brother
once that, if he didn’t use more discretion in bringing you up, you
would keep him pretty busy. And now what do you think I can do for you?”

“Why, you will just get me out of here, and drive me to the Kallerghis,
where I am staying.”

Arif Pasha looked at me with a kind of puzzled exasperation. “How old
are you?” he asked.

“Sixteen.”

“Well, can’t you see that if I drove you there at this hour your
reputation would be ruined?”

“Oh!” I exclaimed blankly. “Then what must we do?” I was quite willing
to leave it all to him.

A fresh access of merriment overcame the Turk. He laughed till the
tears came into his eyes. I stood by, inclined to join in with him, yet
not quite sure whether it was directed against me or not. In truth,
there was a sardonic humour in the situation which I did not understand
until some hours later.

“Did ever a man find himself in such a position!” he gasped, wiping his
eyes. “Here I am routed out of bed at an unearthly hour, and dragged
across Stamboul to a police-station, to discover myself possessed of a
Greek wife I never knew I had--and to get her out of jail!”

He went to the door and clapped his hands. To the soldier who responded
to the signal he said a few words, and then returned to me.

“I have sent for coffee and something to eat.”

“But I don’t want anything to eat. I only want to get out of here,” I
said petulantly.

“Pardon me,” he said with severity, “but I am not accustomed to speak
twice to my wives. They do what I say without objections.”

“But I am not your wife,” I retorted, nettled at his lofty tone.

“No? I thought you said you were,” and again his laugh filled the room.

When the coffee and _galetas_ were brought in, I ate meekly, and
they tasted good. The hot coffee, especially, warmed me, and made
things seem more cheerful than they had.

When we had finished eating, he said to me: “Now, mademoiselle, my
carriage is downstairs, but I have explained to you why I cannot drive
you direct to the Kallerghis.”

“Suppose you take me to your home, and tell your favourite wife about
it,” I suggested.

His dark-blue eyes danced. “You think she will believe me,
mademoiselle?”

“Why not?”

He shook his head. “When you are a woman, you will understand many
things you do not now, and I hope you will still have cause to trust
men as you do now. But, mademoiselle, they are not all trustworthy, and
women are right not to believe what they say.”

He caressed his clean-shaven chin and became lost in thought. Presently
he unfolded his plan, and, even in my youth and impatience, I began
to see that the sole object of his precautions was to get me into the
house in such a way as to save me from any breath of scandal.

The sooner we left the station-house the better it would be. He spoke
a few words to the police-officers, and then told me to follow him.
There was a closed coupé awaiting us, and when we were in it he pulled
down both curtains. “We are going on a long drive until it becomes
respectable daylight. Then we shall go to your house, as if I were
bringing you back from a visit to one of my wives.”

It was after nine o’clock when we reached the Kallerghis house.

“Now,” he said, “arrange the _yashmak_ so that it will look like
a European scarf, and hold your _feredjé_ as if it were a silk
cloak, and don’t look frightened. I will get out and ring the bell, and
stay here talking and laughing with you for a minute. If you see people
whom you know, bow cordially to them, and do not act as if there were
anything unusual in the situation.”

When the servant answered the bell, I got out of the carriage, and Arif
Pasha, bending over my hand, said:

“Mademoiselle, tell your brother that I shall forget ever having seen
you to-night.”

“Thank you,” I said.

Of the man who opened the door I asked: “Is my brother or Kyrios
Kallerghis in?”

“No, mademoiselle. They have been here several times this morning, but
are out now. They seem to be in some kind of trouble.”

“As soon as they come in, tell them I should like to see them.”

It was a haggard and miserable brother who came to my room an hour or
so later.

After telling him all my adventure, I repeated Arif Pasha’s message.

My brother gave me a long, thoughtful look.

“Do you know,” he said at last, “that Arif and I have been deadly
enemies for the last three years?”



CHAPTER XX

IN THE WAKE OF COLUMBUS


This night of terrors proved my last adventure in Turkey. Soon
afterwards events began to force me to feel that in order to live my
own life, as seemed right to me, I must flee from all I knew and loved
to an unknown, alien land. It is a hard fate: it involves sacrifices
and brings heartaches. After all, what gives to life sweetness and
charm is the orderliness with which one develops. To grow on the home
soil, and quietly to reach full bloom there, gives poise to one’s life.
It may be argued that this orderly growth rarely produces great and
dazzling results; still it is more worth while. People with restless
dispositions, people to whom constant transplanting seems necessary,
even if they attain great development, are rather to be pitied than to
be envied; and, when the transplanting produces only mediocre results,
there is nothing to mitigate the pity.

By nature I was a social revolutionist, and I liked neither the
attitude of the men towards the women nor of the women towards life,
among the people of my race. I have learned better since, and know now
that social laws exist because society has found them to be wise, and
that little madcaps like me are better off if they respect them. But at
that time I had more daring than wisdom, and longed to go where people
lived their lives both with more freedom and with more intensity.
Moreover, I wanted to “do something”--like so many feather-brained
girls all the world over--just what, I did not know, for I had no
especial talents.

With a fairly accurate idea of my own worth, I knew that I was
intelligent, but I was fully aware that I was the possessor of no gifts
that would place me among the privileged few and outside the ranks of
ordinary mortals. Brought up on books and nourished on dreams, I had a
poor preparation with which to fight the battle of life, particularly
in a foreign country, where everything was different, and difficult
both to grasp and to manipulate. The only factor in my favour was my
Greek blood, synonymous with money-making ability; for we Greeks have
always been merchants, even when we wore _chlamidas_ and reclined
in the _agora_, declaiming odes to the gods, talking philosophy,
or speculating on the immortality of our souls.

Knowing my race as I did, and aware that it succeeded in making money
in climates and under conditions where other races failed, I was
confident that I could earn my own living. There is something in us
which justifies the tale of Prometheus. Even before I was fifteen I was
quietly planning to leave Turkey, to go and seek what fortunes awaited
me in new and strange lands--a course which my imagination painted
very attractively. America beckoned to me more than any other country,
perhaps because I thought there were no classes there, and that every
one met on an equal footing and worked out his own salvation.

We are all the possessors of two kinds of knowledge: one absorbed
from experience, books, and hearsay, which we call facts; the other,
a knowledge that comes to us through our own immortal selves. This
last it is impossible to analyse, since it partakes of the unseen
and the untranslatable. We feel it, that is all. This subconscious
knowledge--to which many of us attach far greater importance than we do
to cold facts--is usually as remote as a distant sound, though at times
it may be so clear as to be almost palpable. This secondary knowledge
told me I must go to America--America that rose so luminous, so full of
hope and promise on the never-ending horizon of my young life.

I had not the remotest idea of how my dream of going there could be
realized; but I believe that if one keeps on dreaming a dream hard
enough, it will eventually become a reality. And so did mine. A Greek
I knew was appointed consul to New York, and was shortly to sail with
his family to the United States. I had a secret conference with them,
offering to accompany them as an unpaid governess, and to stay with
them as long as they stayed in America. They accepted my offer.

This I regarded merely as a means of getting away from home. After
I left them my real career would begin. That I was prepared for no
particular vocation, that I did not even know a single word of English,
disconcerted me not at all. Accustomed to having my own way, I was
convinced that the supreme right of every person was to lead his life
as he chose. I do not think so any longer. On the contrary, I believe
that the supreme duty of every individual is to consider the greatest
good of the greatest number. That I succeeded in my rash enterprize is
more due to the kindness of Providence than to any personal worth of
mine.

Of America actually I knew almost nothing, and what I thought I knew
was all topsy-turvy. The story of Pocohontas and Captain John Smith
had fallen into my hands when I was twelve years old. I wept over it
and surmised that the great continent beyond the seas was peopled by
the descendents of Indian princesses and adventurers. My second piece
of information was gathered from a French novel, I believe, in which a
black sheep was referred to as having gone to America “where all black
sheep gravitate.” And my third source of information was “Uncle Tom’s
Cabin,” the book which makes European children form a distorted idea of
the American people, and sentimentalize over a race hardly worth it.

This made up my encyclopædia of American facts. That all those who
emigrated thither succeeded easily, and amassed untold wealth, I
ascribed to the fact that being Europeans they were vastly superior to
the Americans, who at best were only half-breeds. You who read this may
think that I was singularly ignorant; yet I can assure you that to-day
I meet many people on my travels in Europe who are not only as ignorant
as I was, but who have even lower ideas about the Americans.

We landed in New York in winter, and went directly to Hotel Martin, at
that time still in its old site near Washington Square.

What did I think of America at first? This indeed is the most difficult
question to answer. I was so puzzled that I remained without thoughts.
To begin with, the people, for half-breeds, were extremely presentable.
The redskin ancestral side was quite obliterated. Then the houses, the
streets, the whole appearance of the city was on a par with Paris. What
appalled us all was the dearness of things. I remember the day when we
gave a Greek street vendor one cent for some fruit, and he handed us
one little apple. “Only this for a cent?” we cried; and so indignant
were we that we reclaimed our cent and returned him his apple.

We managed to do ridiculous things daily. At our first evening meal at
the hotel, a tall glass vase stood in the middle of the table filled
with such strange flowers as we had never seen before. They were pale
greenish white, with streaks of yellow. We thought it very kind of the
proprietor to furnish them for us, and each of us took one and fastened
it on our dress.

The waiters glanced at us in surprise, but it was nothing to the
sensation we created when we rose to go out of the dining-room. People
nudged each other and stared at us. Of the French maid who came to
unfasten my dress I asked:

“Do we seem very foreign?”

“No, indeed,” she replied, “I should have taken Mademoiselle for a
French girl, except that she wears her hair loose on her back.”

“Then why did the people in the dining-room stare at us so?”

She suppressed a giggle. “Yes, I know, Mademoiselle, I have heard about
it. It is the flower Mademoiselle is wearing.”

“What is the matter with it?”

“Nothing, except that it is not a flower--it is a vegetable, called
celery.”

I do not know how many more absurd things we did during the three
weeks we stayed at the hotel. Then we took a flat near Riverside Drive
the rent of which staggered us, but when it came to the servants we
almost wept. Four pounds a month to slovenly girls who were only
half-trained, who made a noise when they walked, and who slammed the
doors every other minute.

I was anxious to start my English studies at once, for as yet I could
only say “All right,” a phrase which everybody used, _à propos_ of
nothing, it seemed to me. I went to the Normal College to inquire about
the conditions for entering it. The president received me. He was the
first American man with whom I talked. He had lovely white hair, and
a kind, fatherly face. He spoke no French, and sent for a student who
did; and when she translated to him what I wanted, he explained that I
could not enter college until I knew English and could pass my entrance
examinations. The young girl who translated offered to teach me English
for a sum, which, to me, coming from the East and cheap labour and
possessor of small financial resources, seemed preposterous. Still I
liked her eyes: they were dark blue, and green, and grey, all at once,
with long and pretty lashes; so I accepted her offer. That very evening
she gave me my first lesson, and proposed that instead of paying her I
should improve her French in exchange for her English lessons, an offer
that I was very glad to accept. She was my first American friend, and
remains among my very best.

We had only been a few months in New York when my Greek friends
were obliged to return to Turkey. I resolved to remain behind. I
must confess at once that I did so out of pride alone. New York had
frightened me more than the capture by the brigands, the earthquake,
and an Armenian massacre in which I once found myself, all put
together. Yet to go back was to admit that I had failed, that the world
had beaten me, and after only a very few months.

I had just sixty dollars, and my courage--robbed a little of its
effervescence. Since I had had only two English lessons a week, and no
practice whatever, because all the people we met spoke French to us, my
vocabulary was very limited, but I managed to get about pretty well.
Once in a shop I asked for “half past three sho-es,” and obtained them
without trouble.

Before my friends left New York for Constantinople they gave me a
certificate saying that I was qualified to be a governess--for which
I was really as qualified as to drive an engine. Since I had had no
chance to modify my opinion about the origin of Americans, I still
looked upon them as inferiors, and considered myself quite good enough
for them. Taking a small room in a small hotel, I applied to an agency
for a position. It did not prove quite so easy to obtain as I had
thought it would. In the first place, I was not French born; secondly,
I was ridiculously young looking; and then of course I had to admit
that I had been a governess in a way only.

How amusing it was to be presented as a governess! Most of the ladies
spoke such comical French, and asked questions which I thought even
funnier than their French. I could have found a place at once, if I
had been willing to accept twenty-five dollars a month as a nursery
governess, and eat with the servants.

Meanwhile most of my money was spent, and to economize I walked miles
and miles rather than take the street cars; and then came the time when
all my money was gone, and I was in arrears with my rent, and had no
money for food.

I do not wish anyone to suppose that I was miserable. On the contrary,
I liked it: I was at last living the life I had so often read about. I
was one of the great mass of toilers of the earth, whom in my ignorance
I held far superior to the better classes. I had romantic notions about
being a working girl, and my imagination was a fairy’s wand which
transfigured everything. Besides, I was a heroine to myself. Those who
have even for one short hour been heroes to themselves can understand
the exaltation in which I lived, and can share with me in the glory of
those days.

At this time I happened to apply to the Greek newspaper for a position,
not because I thought there was any chance for me, but because it was
so interesting to apply for work. Every time I applied to a new person,
it was a new adventure; and I had applied so many times, and been
rejected so often, that I did not mind it any more. I knew that if the
worst came to the worst I could for a time become a servant. I was well
trained in domestic work and could cook pretty well; for, when we Greek
girls are not at school, a competent person is engaged to come into the
house and train us systematically in all branches of housekeeping. The
idea of becoming a servant, of entering an American home and obtaining
a nearer view of my half-breeds within their own walls appealed to me.
What I objected to, was being hired as a governess and treated as a
servant.

To my surprise, the Greek newspaper, a weekly then, took me at once on
its staff. I was delirious with joy, not so much because I was going
to earn money as at the idea of working on a newspaper. It seemed so
glorious, so at the top of everything.

Just at this time--at the agency, I think--I heard of a French home,
far out on the West Side in the vicinity of Twenty-third Street, where
French working girls stayed while seeking positions. I went there, and
made arrangements to stay a few months; and from there sought my hotel
proprietor. I told him that the Greek newspaper had engaged me at a
salary which did not permit me to live at his hotel, and what was more
that I could not at the moment pay him what I owed him--three weeks’
rent, I believe--but that I would pay him as soon as possible. He was
very nice about the matter, and said it would be “all right,” though I
doubt very much if he ever expected to see his money.

My work on the newspaper was hard and tedious. I am a bad speller, and
can write a word in five different ways on one page without discovering
it. On account of this failing I was often taken to task by the editor
in chief, who was the proprietor, and had some black moments over it,
until one of the type-setters quietly suggested to me that I should
pass over my stuff to him and he would correct the spelling before the
editor saw it, which I did ever after, and was very thankful to him.

My newspaper work was not only of long, long hours, but it absorbed
all my time, as well as my energy and strength, and shortly after
undertaking it I had to give up my English studies. I was too worn out
physically and mentally to continue them.

It was not so bad during the cold weather, but suddenly, without the
slightest warning, the cold gave place to burning heat. There was no
spring. That lovely transition period in which all is soft, both in
air and in colours, did not exist in that American year. The summer
burst fiercely over the city and scorched it in a few days. It grilled
the pavements; it grilled the houses; it multiplied and magnified
the noises of horse and elevated cars, of street-hawkers and yelling
children--and these noises in turn seemed to accentuate the heat. Every
morning I took the Sixth Avenue elevated train at Twenty-Third Street,
and all the way to the Battery there was hardly a tree or a blade of
grass to meet the tired eye, to soothe the over-wrought nerves, nothing
but ugly buildings--ugly and dirty. And as the train whizzed along,
the glimpses I had of the people inside these buildings were even
more disheartening than the ugliness and dirtiness of the buildings
themselves.

And this was my America, the country of the promised land. It seemed
to me then as if my golden dream had turned into a hideous nightmare
of fact--a nightmare which threatened to engulf me and cast me into
that unrecognizable mass continually forming by the failures of life.
That I did not sink down into it was, because, in spite of the hideous
reality, I remained a dreamer, and those who live in dreams are rarely
quelled by reality. In that fearful, hot, New York summer I began to
dream another dream which made the heat more tolerable. Daily, as
the elevated train noised its way to the Battery, I imagined myself
having succeeded, having amassed wealth, from which I made gifts to the
thousands of toilers in that scorched city. I planted trees for them
everywhere, along the streets, along the avenues; and wherever there
was a little vacant plot of land I converted it into a tiny park. There
I saw the people sitting under the shade of my trees, and so real did
my dream become that I began actually to live it, and suffered less
from the heat myself; for I was constantly on the look out for new
spots where I could plant more trees.

At luncheon time I used to go out for a little stroll on the Battery,
and there I used to see immigrant women, dressed partially in their
native costumes, and surrounded by numbers of their little ones,
jabbering in their own lingo. One day I sat down near a solitary woman,
unmistakably an Italian peasant.

“Hot to-day, isn’t it?” I said in her own tongue.

From the sea, slowly she raised her eyes to me. I smiled at her, but
received no response.

“You look very tired,” I said, “and so am I. I suppose you are thinking
of your own country, of fields and trees, are you not?”

“How did you know?” she demanded sullenly.

“Because I do the same myself. I also am an immigrant. You look across
the sea with the same yearning in your eyes as is in my heart, for we
are both homesick.”

She was no longer cross, after this, and because another woman was
sharing in her misery that misery became lighter. She began to tell me
of her sorrow. She had buried her second baby in two weeks, because of
the heat. Her lap was now empty. She spat viciously on the water. “That
is what I have in my heart for America--that!” and again she spat.

I volunteered an account of my own disillusionment about America; and
there we sat at the edge of the Battery, two sad immigrants, telling
each other of the beauties we had left behind, and of the difficulties
we had to fight in the present. If I had then known a little of the
history of America, I might have told her of the first immigrants,
of how much they had to suffer and endure, and for what the present
Thanksgiving Day stood. I might have told her more of their hardships,
and how they had had to plant corn on the graves of their dear ones,
so that the Indians should not find out how many of them had died--but
I was as ignorant as she, and we only knew of our own homesickness and
misery.

The heat had started early in May, and it kept on getting hotter and
hotter, with only sudden and savage thunderstorms, which passed over
the city like outraged spirits, and deluged it for a few hours with
rain that became steam as soon as it touched the scorched pavements.
Occasionally some fresh wind would penetrate into the city, as if bent
on missionary work; but it was soon conquered by the demons of heat. It
grew hotter and hotter. It seemed as if the city would perish in its
own heat--and then came the month of August!

I shall never forget that August. Even now, wherever I am during
that month, my spirit goes back to that desolate city to share in
the sufferings of its poor people who have to work long hours in hot
offices, and then at night try to sleep in small, still hotter rooms,
with the fiendish noise of the city outside. And it is then again that
my dream comes back to me, to give trees all along the streets and all
along the avenues, and shady open spaces to breathe in.



CHAPTER XXI

IN REAL AMERICA


It was in meeting again the hotel proprietor, when I went back to pay
him my debt, that I first realized what a summer in the land of promise
had done for me. He did not know me at all. Thinking it quite natural
he should not remember one among the thousands he saw yearly, I tried
to recall myself to his memory.

“You don’t mean to say,” he cried, “that you are the child who was here
a few months ago! Have you been ill?”

“No.”

“Then what have you done to yourself?”

I had not done anything to myself, but the work and the heat had robbed
me of all my colour, of half my hair, and of pounds of weight.

At the French home my fellow-inmates were mostly of the servant class.
They were very kind to me: they made my bed, swept my room, washed my
hair, did my little mending, and even brought me sweets. They expressed
the hope that I should meet some nice American who would offer me
marriage, yet they confessed that American people were singularly
devoid of sentiment.

Several months after I was on the staff of the newspaper, an American
scholar, who was writing a book on the Greek language, came to the
office to see if he could find some one to work with him, and the
proprietor recommended me. At his house I met his wife, who at once
took an interest in me. Since she spoke very little French and I no
more English, our progress was slow; but both of them were very kind
to me. The husband became my regular pupil, paying me for one hour’s
Greek lesson every day more than I was receiving from the newspaper
for all my time. So I decided to give up my position with the latter,
where there was really no chance for advancement, and devote myself to
teaching and studying.

It was necessary for me at this time to change quarters. I could not
keep on living in a place where I had no companionship; so my Greek
pupil put an advertisement in the newspaper for me, saying that I
was an educated young Greek girl, who would exchange French or Greek
lessons for a home.

From the replies to my advertisement he chose a school, and I went
to see the principal. She, too, had blue eyes, which had become the
symbol of kindness to me. She knew French, and we were able to speak
together. She wished me to coach a girl in Greek, to pass her entrance
examinations, and for this she was willing not only to give me my room
and board but my laundry. I at once moved to the school, and here ended
the first chapter of my American life.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was now living in an American school, surrounded by Americans. I was
to see them live their American lives. One may imagine how interested I
was. The school had about a hundred day scholars, ranging from four to
twenty years of age; and twenty boarders, representing almost as many
States, and who--even to my untrained ears--spoke in almost as many
different ways.

As a teacher of Greek I failed utterly. My pupil read a Greek I
could not follow, even with the text-book in my hand. My beautiful,
musical mother-tongue was massacred in the mouth of that girl, and
she understood me not at all. A living, thrilling language, with a
literature to-day on a par with the best of Europe’s, and spoken by
over ten million people, had to be considered as dead, and pronounced
in a barbaric and ridiculous manner. The girl was very angry at me when
I told her she did not pronounce it correctly. She informed me that
the ancient Greeks pronounced Greek as she did, and that I, the lineal
descendent of this people whose language had been handed down without
a break from father to son, and who used the very words of Plato every
day, did not know how to pronounce it. With what delight I should have
boxed her ears, only I had to remember that I was no longer I, but a
teacher, exchanging lessons for my living.

After several lessons together she went to the principal and told her
that I was quite unfitted to teach her, and that she was only wasting
her time.

The principal and I had a conference. “I can’t teach her,” I admitted,
“unless I learn to pronounce my own language in the execrable way she
does.”

So far then as the school was concerned I had failed. I was a
Greek--but could not teach Greek! The thought of leaving the school
hurt me, because I had become very fond of the principal, who even used
to come to my room sometimes and kiss me good night.

She offered me an alternative. “Wouldn’t you like to teach the little
girls French, talk French with the boarders, take them to church and
out for their walks?”

I was delighted to accept this proposal. Not being permitted to speak
any English with the pupils materially impeded my own progress; but
there was a girl in the school who lived there without being a pupil,
and who, although she spoke French fluently, often talked English with
me, to give me practice. We became very good friends: she said I was to
be her daughter, and she would be my mother. To her I owe a great deal
of the pleasure I had during my first few years in America.

The principal of the school also took the greatest pains with my
English. It is true, she did not permit me to speak it with the girls,
but she herself spoke it constantly with me. I could have had no better
person to take as a pattern, for she had a lovely accent, the best to
be found among Anglo-Saxons anywhere. She chose the books I was to
read, and told me the phrases to use, as if I were her most expensive
pupil.

My general impression of America now was kindness. It was given to me
with the lavishness which is one of the chief characteristics of the
Americans. Yet because they were so different from the people I was
accustomed to, I could not understand them at all, and misunderstanding
them I could not exactly love them. In spite of their kindness they
had a certain crudity of manner, which constantly hurt me. Besides,
they seemed to me to live their lives in blazing lights. I missed
the twilights and starlights, the poetry and charm of our life at
home--just as I missed the spring in their calendar.

It will perhaps surprise Americans to hear that, in spite of the
excellent table at the school, I was almost starved before I could
learn to eat American food. It seemed to me painfully tasteless: the
beef and mutton were so tough, compared to the meat in Turkey, and all
the vegetables were cooked in water--while as for the potatoes I had
never seen such quantities in my life. We had them for breakfast, for
luncheon, and for dinner, in some form or other. Just before we sat
down to table the principal said grace, in which were the words, “Bless
that of which we are about to partake.” To my untrained ear “partake”
and “potatoes” sounded exactly alike, and I wrote home that the
Americans not only ate potatoes morning, noon, and night, but that they
even prayed to the Lord to keep them supplied with potatoes, instead of
daily bread.

My Greek pupil and his wife, and also my first American friend of the
Normal College found me pupils, so that I now earned considerable
money. My outside pupils, mostly married women, were very nice to
me; but I felt that they did not quite know how to take me. I had a
terribly direct way of speaking; and, being still under the impression
that as a nation they were my inferiors, my attitude must have
displayed something of that feeling.

I began to be asked out to luncheons and dinners--partly as a freak, I
am afraid--and at one of these dinners I became the victim of American
humour. Happening to mention that I was surprised at not seeing any
real Americans in New York, I was asked what I meant. I explained that
I meant pure-blooded Indians. Thereupon my host very soberly told me
that I could see them any day at five o’clock, on Broadway, at the
corner where now stands the beautiful Flatiron building. He cautioned
me to be there at five exactly.

The very first day I was free I went to the designated corner. I
arrived at half-past four, and waited there till almost six, without
seeing one Indian. Fearing that I had made a mistake in the corner,
I went into a shop and, in my broken English, made inquiries. Two or
three clerks gathered together and discussed the problem, and then one
of them, repressing a smile, said to me: “I am afraid some one has
played a joke on you. There are no Indians to be seen anywhere in New
York, except in shows.”

That evening at school I told the whole story at table, feeling highly
indignant, and believing that my hearers would share my indignation. To
my amazement every one burst out laughing, and declared it to be the
best joke they had heard for a long time. Some of the girls even said
they should write home and tell it, because it was so “terribly funny.”

Their attitude was a revelation to me. My host had deceived me, and
had wasted two hours of my time and my strength, by giving me a piece
of information that he knew to be false; yet every one thought it
delightfully humorous. The only excuse I could find for this conduct
was that they were a nation of half-breeds, and did not know any
better. Indeed, as time went on, American humour was to me the most
disagreeable part of Americans. It lacked finesse: it was not funny to
me--only undeveloped and childish. Daily I was told that I had no sense
of humour, and that, like an Englishman, I needed a surgical operation
to appreciate what was so highly appreciable.

Finally, I got very tired of being told I had no humour and could not
understand an American joke; so I determined to prove to them that I
not only understood their silly jokes but could play them myself, if I
chose. Now to me the essence of an American joke was a lie, told with a
sober face, and in an earnest voice. I played one on a girl boarder. To
my surprise, the girl, instead of laughing, began to cry and sob, and
almost went into hysterics. It made a great rumpus in the school, and
the principal sent for me.

“My dear, is what you said true?” she asked, with the greatest concern.

“No, not a word of it,” I replied.

“Then why did you say it to the poor girl?”

“To deceive her, and play an American joke on her.”

The principal stared at me an instant, and then burst into immoderate
laughter. She called the victim and the other older girls to her and
explained my joke, and they all went into peels of laughter. In spite
of its inauspicious beginning my American joke was a huge success;
and I could not understand why both the principal and my “mother”
united--after their amusement had subsided--in cautioning me to make no
more American jokes.

For one year I stayed at the school; then, having saved some money from
my private lessons, and having enough pupils assured me for the coming
year, I decided to leave the school and go into a private family, for
the sake of my English, and also in order to see American home life.
I still felt very ignorant about the American people: in their own
way they were so complex, and they could not be judged by European
standards.

Almost with stupefaction do I read the interviews reported by the
newspapers with distinguished and undistinguished foreigners, who,
after a few days’ sojourn in the United States, and a bird’s-eye
view of the country, give out their comprehensive and eulogistic
opinions. They fill me with amazement, and I wonder whether these other
foreigners are so much cleverer than I, or whether they are playing an
American joke on the American people.

The family with whom I went to live turned out to be a Danish husband
with a German wife. Their children, however, were born and brought
up in America, so that I did mingle with Americans of the first
generation. That year away from school enabled me to poke around
a lot, in all sorts of corners and by-corners of New York. I took
my luncheon daily in a different place, and spoke to all sorts of
people, and heard what they had to say. The papers I read faithfully,
and every free evening I would attend some public meeting, from a
spiritualistic séance to any sort of a lecture. I also spent one entire
night in the streets of New York. All the afternoon I slept. At seven
o’clock I dressed and went to dinner alone in one of the so-called
best restaurants of Broadway, and then to the play. The time between
half-past eleven and five in the morning I spent in walking in Broadway
and in Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Avenues. I took the elevated train to
the Battery, then up to Harlem, and down again by another line. New
York at night is very different from New York in the daytime. It seemed
to me that even the types which inhabited it were different, and I saw
a great deal which was not pleasant to see; but no one bothered me,
either by word or look.

Before this year I used to think that to be absolutely free, to go and
come as I pleased, would be the acme of happiness; to have no one to
question my actions, to be responsible only to myself would be the
_koryphe_ of freedom. Yet this year, when I was free to go and
come as I pleased, and had no one to whom I had to give any account
of my actions, I found to be the most desolate of my life, and my
freedom weighed on me far more than ever restraint had at home. I came
to realize that though an individual I was part of a whole, and must
remain a part of that whole in order to enjoy life.

That year humanized me, so to speak, and made me understand the reason
for much that I used to laugh at before--such, for example, as the
spinster’s devotion to her rector, to settlement work, or even to a
parrot, a cat, or a dog. Whenever now I see a woman in a carriage with
a dog on her lap, I may join with those who laugh at her; but at the
same time I wonder if it may not be poverty and loneliness of life
which make that woman, rich in money, lavish the treasures of her heart
on a dumb creature.

At the end of the year I returned to the school, and willingly placed
myself again in harness. During this year I made the acquaintance of
John Fisk’s books, and discovered the error of my preconceived notions
about the American people and their origin. He taught me who the early
settlers really were, whence, and why they had come. I read of their
privations and struggles, and of their ultimate success. For the first
time I looked upon this continent as peopled by the white race, and the
shame I felt for my past ignorance was only mitigated by my desire to
atone for it. I mapped out a thorough course of reading, and all the
spare time of that year and the next was devoted to systematic study of
American history, literature and poetry.

And, as I read American history, it came over me how different the
beginning of this race was from the beginning of all the other
civilized nations of the world. Whereas the others all started by a
strong barbaric race descending upon a weaker people and seizing their
cattle and their lands by brute force, America alone started with the
great middle classes of all civilized races, who came to the new world,
not with brute force as their weapon, but with the desire to carry out
in a wild and virgin country the spiritual and social development they
craved. What a marvellous, unprecedented beginning! What a heritage for
their sons! I am afraid many of them do not appreciate the greatness
of that beginning, otherwise why should they try to go beyond those
early settlers and seek to establish their descent from William the
Conqueror, or some little sprig of nobility, and make themselves
ridiculous where they ought to be sublime?

By temperament I am afraid I am something of an extremist. My barely
tolerant attitude toward my new country changed into a wholly
reverential one. I desired to become an American myself, considering
it a great honour, as in the olden days people came from all over
the world to Greece, to become that country’s citizens. I started my
Americanism by adopting its brusqueness--it is an unfortunate fact
that one is as likely to imitate the faults of those one admires as
the virtues--but brusqueness which is so characteristic of America
is mitigated by its young blood and by its buoyancy, and we of the
old bloods can very little afford that trait. It must have made a
poor combination in me, and many people must have found it hard to
tolerate. The principal of the school told me, during my third year
with her, that I had so completely changed in manners as to be hardly
recognizable. When I first came to live with her, she said, I had had
exquisite and charming manners; now, I had become as brusque as any raw
western girl. She little understood that she was attacking my new garb
of Americanism.

The school year began in October and ended in May, leaving me four
months to my own devices. Two vacations I spent in a fashionable summer
resort, not far from New York, where I not only had pupils enough to
pay my expenses but ample time to read English and American books, and
also opportunity to study the attitude of rich Americans toward a girl
earning her own living--an attitude not very different from ours in the
Old World. One summer I spent in a working girl’s vacation home, where
all the girls were shop girls, and where I met the proletariat of the
New World on an equal footing. And once I spent the entire four months
visiting in the mountains of North Carolina, where I learned how much
more American money is needed for schools there than in Constantinople,
where it goes, not to civilize the Turks but to educate at the least
possible expense to themselves the children of well-to-do Bulgarians,
Greeks, and Armenians--especially the first. And the recent actions of
the Bulgarians have proved eloquently how little American education
helps them; for American civilization must be sought--it cannot be
imposed from without.

My third year at school, the head French teacher left it, and the
principal offered me her place; and so, four years after I landed in
the new world I was at the head of the French department of one of the
best private schools in New York City. I had many good friends, was
making considerable money outside the school, and was studying at the
University of New York. To all appearance I had succeeded; yet truth
compels me to confess that, so far as my inner self was concerned, I
was a total failure.

I had thought that if I were to join the great army of the world’s
workers, and lead my life as seemed to me worthy; if I were to cut
loose from the conventions and traditions which hampered my development
in the old world, happiness would come to me. Far from it! I realized
then that I was only one of the victims of that terrible disease,
Restlessness, which has taken hold of women the world over. We are
dissatisfied with the lines of development and action imposed by our
sex, and the causes of our dissatisfaction are so many that I shall
not even try to enumerate them. The terrible fact remains that in our
discontent we rush from this to that remedy, hoping vainly that each
new one will lead to peace. We have even come to believe that political
equality is the remedy for our disease. Very soon, let us hope, we
shall possess that nostrum, too. When we find ourselves politically
equal with men, and on a par with them in the arena of economics, we
may discover that these extraneous changes are not what we need. We
may then, by looking deep down into our own hearts see whether, as
women, we have really done the best we could by ourselves. We may
then find out the real cause for our discontent, and deliberately and
with our own hands draw the line of demarcation again between men and
women, and devote ourselves to developing that greater efficiency in
ourselves along our own lines, which is the only remedy for our present
restlessness.

I believe that only then shall we find contentment and a better
equality than the one for which to-day some of us are even committing
lawlessness.



CHAPTER XXII

BACK TO TURKEY


Yet after I had come to believe that these conclusions of mine were the
right ones--and at the present moment I still believe them to be so--I
did not rise, pack my trunk and return to my home. On the contrary,
disillusioned though I was, I meant to stay in America. My little self
felt pledged to the onward fight, into which evolution has plunged us.
My generation belongs to that advance guard which will live to see the
fight ended in America, and I must be present, after the great victory
is won, to see how we shall face the reconstruction period. This was
the reason why, when my mother, about to undergo a serious operation,
sent for me to be with her, I bought my return ticket before leaving
America, and kept it always with me--ready for use at a moment’s notice.

The love of our native land forms an indelible part of our souls. A mad
joy possessed me all the way from New York to Genoa; a delirium from
Genoa to the Dardanelles; and from the straits to the harbour I was
speechless with emotion. How wonderful my empress city looked, when
the mist gradually lifted and disclosed her to my homesick eyes. Up to
that moment I had thought never to see her enchanting face again; yet
there I was, standing on the promenade deck of a commonplace steamer,
while she was giving me--me, her runaway child--all her smiles and all
her glory.

We must be very strong, that we do not sometimes die of joy.

When the little tender docked at the quay of Galata, how I should have
loved to have escaped the customs bother, the many and one greetings,
and the hundred and several more stupid words one has to say on
disembarking. Yet having acquired a little wisdom, I was patient with
the custom-house men, and polite to the people who had been sent to
meet me. Obediently even I entered the carriage which was to take me
up, up on the seven hills where we Christians live.

Not till several days afterwards was I free to start on my pilgrimage;
and as I walked up and down the main streets, and in and out of the
narrow, crooked, dirty lanes, which lead one enticingly onward--often
to nowhere--I was aware that my pilgrimage had a double aim. First, I
wanted to recognize my old haunts, and second, to find that part of
myself which had once lived within those quarters. Alas! if the streets
were the same, I was not. Where was the girl, full of enthusiasm
and dreams, who had trod these same streets? Something within me had
changed. Was it my faith in mankind, or my faith in life itself?

As I walked on, unconsciously I was picturing these same streets,
clean, full of life and bustle, were Turkey to belong to America. I
could see the trolleys they would have here, the terraces they would
build there, the magnificent buildings they would erect, and all the
civilized things they would bring to my mother country. My eyes,
Americanized by the progress of the new world, kept seeing things that
ought to be done, and were left undone, for no other reason than that
they had been left undone for hundreds of years. The saddest of all sad
things is when one begins to see the faults and failings of one’s own
beloved, be it a person or a country. I hated myself for finding fault
with Turkey because she was clad in a poor, unkempt garb.

Before the Galata Tower, just where the streets form a cross, I turned
to the left, and walked to the next street. At its entrance the leader
of a band of dogs rose from his slumbers and barked at me angrily.
I started, and then stood still. This was a street where once I had
lived, and the canine leader barking at me was the same as six years
ago, only older, more unkempt, and filthier. It hurt me to have him
bark at me. It meant that he did not know me--or did he with his
doggish intuition feel that I was disloyal in my heart to the old
régime?

“Why, Giaour!” I cried, “don’t you know me? We used to be friends, you
and I.”

He stood rigidly on his old legs, his band alert to follow his lead.
These dogs, which were anathema to the stranger, had a double duty
to perform in their unhappy city. They were not only scavengers, but
the defenders of her defenceless quarters. The stranger only saw
their scarred bodies and ugly appearance; but we who were born in
Constantinople knew how they formed their bands, and how they protected
us. Each quarter had some twenty dogs, and they guarded it both against
other dogs, and against strangers. The young ones, as they grew up, had
to win their spurs, and their position was determined by their bravery
and skill, both in fighting and in commanding. I had seen Giaour win
his leadership, a month or so before I left Constantinople. He had been
nicknamed Giaour by a Turkish _kapoudji_, because he had a white
cross plainly marked on his face.

To my entreaties he only stood growling. “Come, Giaour,” I begged, “I
have changed, I know, but I am still enough myself for you not to bark
at me.”

He listened, mistrustfully watching every movement I made, and because
of this I perpetrated a shameful deed. I retreated to Galderim
Gedjesi, bought a loaf at the baker’s, and with the bribe in my hand
returned. The band was now lying down, but Giaour was still standing,
his pantallettes shaking in a ruffled and disturbed fashion. In his
heart, perhaps, he was not pleased with himself for having barked at me.

I approached him, the bread in my hand. After all, is not Turkey the
land of bribes?

“Come, Giaour!” I went and sat down on a door-step. Slowly and with
dignity he followed. “Here is some bread from the baker’s for you, and
please try to remember me! It is more than I can bear to have you bark
at me, Giaour.”

He sniffed at the piece of bread I offered him; then ate it, and then
another piece, and another. When he had finished the entire loaf he
placed both his paws on my lap and studied my face intently.

“Giaour, you know me now, don’t you?” I begged. “I used to live here
six years ago, though it seems like ages.”

From across the way an Englishman came out of a house and approached
me, where I sat with Giaour’s paws in my lap. “I beg your pardon,” he
said shyly, lifting his hat, “but you are a stranger here, and those
fellows are dangerous. Besides they are unhealthy.”

This was the last straw: he took me for a foreigner.

“Thank you,” I replied, “but I am not afraid. The fact is, we are of
the same kennel, Giaour and I.”

“Kennel--h’m!”

“Oh, I know Giaour has never seen a kennel, as you understand it in
England; but he has a fine doggish soul, just the same.”

“H’m!” the Englishman sniffed again, “perhaps he has,” and lifting his
hat, he went away.

It is a curious fact that unless an Englishman in England knows you,
he would rather perish than speak to you first; on the Continent he
would rather be rude to you than decent; but in Turkey his nature
seems to change, and he is really a nice human being. As I watched the
man go away I was thinking that if England were governing Turkey how
delightful everything would be. Yes, England would be the one nation
to succeed with Turkey. America was too bustling, after all, and had
too little experience. Germany had too much paternalism and discipline;
Austria-Hungary lacked fundamental honesty; while as for Russia--that
ought never to be. Russian bureaucracy, grafted on the corrupt Turkish
stem would only make matters worse. But England, with her love of
order and decency, and with just enough discipline to put matters to
rights--how delightful it would be, and how the Turks would enjoy
stopping whatever they were doing, at four o’clock, to have tea! Alas!
between Mr Gladstone’s indiscreet utterances, and Sir Elliot’s bad
management, England let her hour slip by, and Turkey was deprived of
her one chance to be regenerated.

Giaour threw back his head and emitted a howl. It was strident and
harsh, the howl of the plains of Asia; for Giaour was of the blood of
the once monarchs of the East, though now he was a ragged, diseased
dog--scavenger, and soldier of fortune.

Lovingly my hand patted his old head. “Ah, Giaour, my boy, these are
hard days for thee and thy race, and even I am recreant in my heart to
thee. Forgive me! Perhaps the Powers, in not agreeing among themselves,
have reached the only possible agreement at present--the Turk in
Constantinople.”

I took his paws and put them down. “Don’t bark at me again, old boy.”

He waved his stump of a tail, just a tiny bit. He had eaten my bread,
he had looked into my eyes, yet he was not quite certain of me. Perhaps
he, too, had lost faith in life and in mankind.

On leaving Giaour, I plunged into that tangle of streets through which
one may deviously find one’s way to Kara-keuy. To a stranger it is a
veritable labyrinth; but though I have little sense of locality I could
still find my way through it. It is one of the few thoroughly oriental
quarters left on this side of the Galata Bridge.

Arrived at Kara-Keuy I stopped happily, watching the life about me. How
delightfully--how terribly--everything was the same. From afar I heard
a cry--“_Varda!_” and then saw the half-clad figure of the runner,
who, waving a red flag to right and to left, was warning pedestrians
that the street-car was coming. Ah! this was indeed my Constantinople,
disdained by progress, forgotten by time. How emblematic was this
runner before the street-car. He reminded me of the cynical words of
the crafty Russian statesman, Ignatief, who once exclaimed: “They talk
of regenerating Turkey--as if that were possible even to the Almighty
above.”

My dear, dear Turkey! She may start over again in Asia, but be
regenerated in Europe----?

For a little while I walked on, and then entering a small
confectioner’s shop, frequented only by Turks, and squatting like them
on a low stool, I ordered a _kourous_ worth of _boughatcha_.
I ate it with my fingers, like the others. Near me sat two young
students of theology, talking politics. Their tone as much as their
words made me see bloodshed. In some ways the Turks are one of the
finest races, but they have been losing ground for the last two
hundred years and it hurts them, and in their heart they see red. No
wonder they make others see it, too. The conversation of the young
_softas_ was full of the sanguine colour. This was shortly after
1897. Turkey had just defeated Greece, and the old feeling of arrogance
was uppermost in the breasts of Mahomet’s followers.

“Fork them out! Fork them out, the giaours,” cried the younger of the
two. “They are only fit for fodder, those Christian dogs.”

I should have liked to linger over my _boughatcha_, but the
tension of the tone betrayed a heat above the normal. I paid my
_kourous_, and left the shop, praying both to the Christian God
and to the Mohammedan one that they might let these misguided children
see stretches of peaceful green, instead of always red.

Slowly, slowly, now, I walked to the Galata Bridge, and turned to the
right, just behind the _karakol_ which houses the main body of the
Galata police. I was on my way to hunt up old Ali Baba, my boatman, him
with whom years ago I had shared the raptures of the Byzantine History.
My heart was beating fast. Would Turkey play me false this once? Would
the one living landmark of my past be chosen as the one to mark a
change in that changeless country?

Hastening, I yet found myself lingering in my haste. If his place were
to be empty, if he were really gone, having himself been rowed over the
river Styx, would it not be better for me not to go there, but always
to remember his place filled by his kindly presence?

Though reasoning thus, my feet still took me onward to where he used to
be, and there, at his accustomed place, sat Ali Baba, his face looking
like a nice red apple, wrinkled by the sun and rain.

I went and stood before him. “Ali Baba!” I said, tears in my voice.

He rose, a trifle less quickly than he used to, and looked at me
incredulously.

“_Benim kuchouk, hanoum_,” he said slowly, rubbing his eyes.

“Oh! it is I!” I cried. “It is I,” and gave him both my hands.

We walked toward the little caïque, where he took some time to unfasten
the rope. We did not speak until he had rowed again mid-way, under the
bridge.

“Where have you been all these many, many years?” he asked
reproachfully.

“I have been to America.” I replied, “the newest and biggest of all
countries”--and as of old I was talking, and he was listening; only
this time it was not of the past, and of the people, who, having done
their work, were dead and forgotten, but of a country of a great
present, and a still greater future. And as of old his old face was
full of interest and kindness.

Presently he asked, “But my little lady, what have you done with the
roses of your face? You are pale and worn out.”

“One has to work hard in America,” I replied. “It is a country which
requires of your best, of your utmost, if you are to succeed.” And
again I went on to tell him of the fast trains which go sixty miles an
hour, of the elevated trains, flying above the middle of the streets,
and of the preparations for the subways, which were to burrow in the
depths of the city.

“But why are they working so hard and preparing so much?” he asked, a
bit bewildered. “After all they will have to die, and when they are
dead they can only have a grave like anybody else.”

I shook my head. “They are making away with the graves, my Ali Baba.
They have invented a quicker and more expedient way of getting rid of
the body. They place it on a table in a special room, and within two
hours all that is left of it is a simple white strip of clean ashes.”

He gasped. “They have done that?” he cried in horror. “They have
done that! Allah, can’st thou forgive them?” He leaned towards me,
earnestness and entreaty in his kind face. “Don’t go back there, my
little one, don’t go back there again. It is an accursed country which
steals the peace from the living, their bodies from the dead, and robs
a child of her roses. Say that you are not going back, my little one.”

Again I shook my head. “When I left there, my Ali Baba, I bought my
return-ticket. I wear it like an amulet around my neck. I am going back
as soon as my presence is no longer needed here.”

He let his oars drop. “You are going back?” he asked with awe. “But
why?”

I looked at him, and beyond him at old Byzantium--once Greek, now full
of minarets and mosques and all they stood for. A red Turkish flag
floated idly against the indigo sky.

Why was I going back to that vast new country so diametrically
different from his own? Could I explain to him?

No, I could not, any more than I could have explained, years ago, to my
little Turkish Kiamelé the meaning of my grand-uncle’s gift on my fifth
birthday.

“Why are you going back?” Ali Baba insisted.

No, I could not tell him: he could not understand.

His flag was the Crescent, mine was the Cross.



THE SOUL OF A TURK

BY

VICTORIA DE BUNSEN

_With 8 Illustrations_

_Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d. net_


_Morning Post._--“The most delightful books are those which either
depict the characters of men and women, or those which reveal the
personality of the writer. Mrs De Bunsen’s account of her travels in
the Near East combines both these charms.”

_Westminster Gazette._--“‘The Soul of a Turk’ is an interesting,
well-written book.”

_Evening Standard._--“Mrs De Bunsen’s volume must have a niche all
to itself in the great library built up by travellers in Turkey. It
does actually fulfil the promise of its title.”

_Daily Telegraph._--“It is an admirable and suggestive piece of
portraiture.”

_Spectator._--“For insight and sympathy with the Oriental mind,
we have not read anything better than these pages for a long time. We
thoroughly commend this book to every one who enjoys following the
travels of a plucky, entertaining, and exceptionally intelligent woman.”

_Athenæum._--“This delightful book is no mere collection of
‘ritual acts.’ It is full of shrewd observations on the people.”

_Observer._--“Mrs De Bunsen’s book is no ordinary book of travel,
but really a very suggestive and thoughtful treatise on the faiths and
customs of the Eastern Turks, illuminated with a woman’s sympathy.”



_BOOKS BY STEPHEN GRAHAM_


CHANGING RUSSIA

A TRAMP ALONG THE BLACK SEA SHORE AND IN THE URALS

_With 15 Illustrations and a Map. Demy 8vo, 7s. 6d. net_

_Pall Mall Gazette._--“A beautifully written book which reveals
the Russian people with a sympathy and a delicacy of perception that
are unsurpassed probably even in the work of the most gifted Russian
writers of to-day.”


UNDISCOVERED RUSSIA

_With 16 Illustrations. Demy 8vo, 12s. 6d. net_

_The Spectator._--“Mr Graham writes so well that the aspects of
his subject tend to transfigure themselves under the spell of a style
whose delicate phrasing and soft melancholy often remind one of Loti’s
subtle-hued visions of men and things seen from beneath the half-closed
eyelids of artist and dreamer. Certainly there is in Mr Graham’s mood
and expression some elusively un-English element that makes his work
read at times like perfectly translated French. Still, his sadness
has its source, not in the passive weariness of Loti, surfeited with
civilisation and experience, but in the mysticism of a born wanderer.”


A VAGABOND IN THE CAUCASUS

WITH SOME NOTES OF HIS EXPERIENCES AMONG THE RUSSIANS

_With 16 Illustrations. Demy 8vo, 12s. 6d. net_

_Country Life._--“With a waterproof sleeping-sack across his
shoulders, and a strong infusion of Carlyle, Swinburne, and Nietzsche
in his head, the author of this wholly delightful book set out to
wander in the Caucasus. It was the spirit of Lavengro, however, that
supplied the real driving power, for in his veins, clearly, the sweet
passion of earth runs side by side with a strong savour of humanity.
Youth, spontaneity, and enthusiasm colour these striking Caucasian
pictures, for the vagabond was also a poet. You follow his adventures
with the same interest you follow an engrossing novel, because you see
the man and feel something of his passion.”


LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD



Transcriber’s Note:

Punctuation has been standardised.

Spelling and variations have been intentionally retained as published
except as follows:

  Page 10
    hands of the vile Turkisk soldiery _changed to_
    hands of the vile Turkish soldiery

  Page 36
    mere rumour and heresay _changed to_
    mere rumour and hearsay

  Page 70
    can’t be, bcause you _changed to_
    can’t be, because you

  Page 73
    rythmically lapping the shore _changed to_
    rhythmically lapping the shore

  Page 74
    tied pieces of garlick _changed to_
    tied pieces of garlic

  Page 146
    thy felt a really patriotic pride _changed to_
    they felt a really patriotic pride

  Page 203
    this did not effect me at the time _changed to_
    this did not affect me at the time

  Page 257
    flat near Riverside Driver _changed to_
    flat near Riverside Drive

  Page 262
    to sooth the over-wrought nerves _changed to_
    to soothe the over-wrought nerves



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