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enlightened day a court and a rule of the Middle Ages-he is only a figurehead now, likely to be removed at a moment's warning.
The Young Turk is in the saddle. Hamid's force of twenty thousand spies has been disbanded. Menof-war lie in the Bosporus just under Yildiz, ready to open fire on that royal palace at the first sign of any disturbance there. The tottering old man is still allowed his royal guard, his harem, and this weekly ceremonial and display to keep up a semblance of imperial power. But he is only a make-believe king; the people know that, and he knows it, too, best of all.
We had special invitations from the palace and a special enclosure from which to view the ceremony. We had cakes, too, and sherbet served while we waited-by the sultan's orders, it was said—but I didn't take any. I thought Abdul might have heard I didn't care for him and put poison in mine. That would be like him.
I was tempted, though, for we had driven a long way through the blinding dust It was hot there, and we had to stand up and keep on standing up while all that great review got together and arranged and rearranged itself; while officials and black Nubian eunuchs, those sexless slaves of the harem, ran up and down, and men sanded the track—that is, the road over which his majesty was to drive-and did a hundred other things to consume time.
One does not hurry the Orient-one waits on it. That is a useful maxim-I'm glad I invented it. I said it over about a hundred times while we stood there waiting for Abdul Hamid, who was dallying with certain favorites, like as not, and remembering us not at all.
It was worth seeing, though. Brigade after brigade swung by to the weird music of their bands—billow after billow of brown, red, and blue uniforms. The hillside became a perfect storm of fezzes; the tide of spectators rose till its waves touched the housetops.
Still we waited and watched the clock on the mosque. Nobody can tell time by a Turkish clock, but there was some comfort in watching it. Presently an informing person at my side explained that Turkish chronology is run on an altogether different basis from ours. There are only three hundred and fiftyfour days in a Turkish year, he said, which makes the seasons run out a good deal faster, so that it is usually about year after next in Turkey; but as it is only about day before yesterday by the clock, the balance is kept fairly even.
He was a very entertaining person. Referring to the music, he said that once the sultan's special brass band had played before him so pleasingly that he ordered all their instruments filled with gold, which was well enough, except for the piccolo-player, who said: “Sire, I am left out of this reward.” “Never mind,” said the sultan, “your turn will come." And it did, next day, for the band played so badly that the sultan roared out: “Ram all their instruments down their throats," which was impossible, of course, except in the case of the piccolo-player.
My entertainer said that formerly cameras were allowed at the Selamlik, but that an incident occurred which resulted in prohibiting cameras and all suspicious articles. He said that a gentleman engaged a carriage for the Selamlik, and explained to the driver that he had invented a wonderful new camera-one that would take pictures in all the colors—and instructed him just how to work the machine.
The gentleman had to make a train, he said, and couldn't wait for the sultan to arrive, but if the driver would press the button when the sultan reached a certain place the picture would take, after which the driver could bring the camera to the Pera Palace Hotel on a certain day and get a hundred piastres, a sum larger than the driver had ever owned at one time. Then the gentleman left in a good deal of a hurry, and the driver told all the other drivers about his good-fortune while they waited; and by and by, when the sultan came, and got just to the place where the gentleman had said, the driver pressed the button, and blew a hole seventy-five feet wide and thirty feet deep right on that spot, and it rained drivers and horses and fezzes and things for seven minutes. It didn't damage the sultan any, but it gave him a permanent distaste for cameras and other suspicious objects.
Laura, age fourteen, who had been listening to the story, said:
“Did they do anything to the driver who did it?”
“Yes; they gathered him up in a cigar box and gave him a funeral. No, the man didn't call for the camera.”
I am sorry I have kept the reader waiting for the Selamlik, but the sultan is to blame. One may not hurry a sultan, and one must fill in the time, somehow. Some carriages go by at last, and enter the mosque enclosure, but they do not contain the sultan, only some of his favorite wives, with those long black eunuchs running behind. Then there is a carriage with a little boy in it—the sultan's favorite son, it is said-the most beautiful child I ever saw.
A blare of trumpets-all the bayonets straight up-a gleaming forest of them. Oh, what a bad time to fall out of a balloon!
A shout from the troops-a huzzah, timed and perfunctory, but general. Then men in uniform, walking ahead; a carriage with a splendid driver; a pale, bearded, hook-nosed old man with a tired, rather vacant face. Here and there he touches his forehead and his lips with his fingers, waving the imperial salute. For a moment every eye of that vast concourse is upon him-he is the one important bauble of that splendid setting. Then he has passed between the gates and is gone.
Thus it was that Sultan Abdul Hamid attended mosque. It seemed a good deal of fuss to make over an old man going to prayer.
We drove from the Selamlik to the Dancing Dervishes. I have always heard of them and now I have seen them. I am not sorry to have it over.
Their headquarters are in a weather-beaten-framebarn of a place, and we stood outside for a long time before the doors were open. Inside it was hot and close and crowded, and everybody twisted this way and that and stood up on things to get a look. I held two women together on one chair—they were
standing up—and I expected to give out any minute and turn loose a disaster that would break up the show. There wasn't anything to see, either; not a thing, for hours.
We were in a sort of circular gallery and the dancingfloor was below. We could see squatted there a ring of men - a dozen or so bowed, solemn, abstracted high priests in gowns of different colors and tall fezzes. These were the dervishes, no doubt, but they didn't do anything—not a thing—and we didn't care to stare at them and at the dancing-floor and the rest of the suffering audience forever.
Then we noticed in our gallery a little reserved section with some more abstracted men in gowns and fezzes, and after a long time-as much as a thousand years, I should think—there was an almost imperceptible movement in this reserved compartment, and one of the elect produced some kind of reed and began to blow a strain that must have been born when the woods were temples and the winds were priests—it was so weirdly, mournfully enthralling. I could have listened to that music and forgotten all the world if I hadn't been busy holding those two women on that chair.
The perspiration ran down and my joints petrified while that music droned on and on. Then there was another diversion: a man got up and began to sing. I don't know why they picked that particular mancertainly not for his voice. It was Oriental singinga sort of chanting monotone in a nasal pitch. Yet there was something wild and seductive about it, something mystical—and I liked it well enough.