Sultan Mahmoud had already issued the cruel order that Muslim ladies, when they appear on the streets, wrap their bodies in a baggy bouncy cloak and hide their faces under an opaque veil; but biz this tyrannical decree was not respected by the Mohammedan ladies of Cairo.
After all, in Istanbul, too, the Padisah only succeeded in accepting the fashion imported by the supreme decree with the lady world by first throwing an army of ladies on the Bosphorus without a veil and ferret into the sea.
Mehemed Ali, the governor of Egypt, however, did not follow the example of his sultan; nor did he accept his other commandments: he had enough war with tough men that he would have fought with a soft, gentle woman. He kept them beautiful. If she had been there in Istanbul when those many beautiful girls were thrown into the water: she would certainly have fished them out.
However, the Cairo ladies have from now on let the admiring male people on the streets admire the charm of their stature and face. And there were many strangers among them.
Although the sullen imams addressed a young man in trouble, who wore a suit with a thinner fabric than usual, and let his hair scattered over his shoulders, alarming them at the command of the sultan, but they only threw a thud at them. They all wondered what Nazli-Hanem would do.-142-
Thus was believed the governor’s sister, a favorite, to whose delight he had the «Subra» fairy mansion built near Cairo, surrounded on three sides by a garden enclosed by a high stone wall, only the crowns of palms and the formations of cypresses extending beyond the ledge; and the white marble stairs on the front wall of the castle are washed by the blue water of the Nilus, which rises all the way to the copper doors when flooded. The wide, high wall overlooking the Nilus is covered with painted and carved arabesques, gilded chicory; but there is only one window with which to look at the Nilus: it is round, also closed with a gilded lattice. If this eye could speak and tell me once what it saw?
From this storytelling castle, the charming Nazli-Hanem used to march into the city every afternoon, with its bright accompaniment. Everyone could have been convinced by his own eyes that he deserved the adjective «wizard». Two muscular nubian truncated servants churn out their cute favor; the runners-up run before her, signaling with a horn of the approach of the most powerful mistress, who even rules over the governor.
And all who come face to face must be drunk with the charms of the incomparable fairy, whether Frank or I move; even the fellah can raise his eyes to it. Nazli-Hanem is proud of the news that he has filled Cairo with madmen. The number goes down to the thousands who have lost their minds in his flashing, big night-black eyes. By the time the Birkes-Eszkebieh reaches the market, a whole squadron is accompanied by the rider, all of whom are foolish worshipers afterwards. The south mamlukok!
One day, however, the bright escort team was left behind.
Nazli-Hanem’s favorin, along with his trumpet winds, ran unhealthily along the long, double row of palms. No other complimented him before, only palms.
Where did the South Mamluks stay?
The streets of the city did not have the usual crowds. The princess (that was her address) visited the Khan-Khalil, where the jewelry is sold; from there he took himself to Tarbieh;-143- he went everywhere, bought oriental jewelry, gold-embroidered veils; drank rose water sorbet in the Sukarieh Bazaar; but he met no man anywhere except the slaves and the squid.
Maybe they will be in Suk-e-Sallah, where expensive weapons are sold? This is where the mamluks usually meet.
He found none of the knights there either; and the squids to whom he had asked question all drew their heads between their shoulders, and put their palms before their mouths: they could say nothing.
He finally addressed an old white-bearded feline, whose head was squatting on his knees in front of the Hassarin Mosque.
– What do you know, old man? Where did the South Mamluks go?
The fellah didn’t raise his head, so he replied:
“The mamluks of the south were at a big party with the governor that night and are now asleep.
– But the sun is getting dark.
– They sleep more.
– But do they just wake up in the morning?
– They’ll sleep even in the morning. And then, while the trumpet of the angel Israel is not loud, the mamluks of the south will continue to sleep.
Nazli-Hanem took himself to the governor’s palace in his favor.
The women had access to the harem side, which was obscured by a large, spacious garden; it was also surrounded by a high stone wall, the ledge edged with a pointed iron lattice; a long embankment led to its gate, under the columns of which the water of the Nilus introduced into the canal flowed slowly; and the gate shop is crowned by a spherical domed turret, from whose two spherical windows two eunuchs peeked day and night, with old-fashioned, mortar-bay rifles that could sweep across the narrow path. There was a lift bridge in front of the gate opening, which closed it at the same time. It was released for the familiar whistle signal.-144-
The princess stared and saw that the trap bridge was lowered, the gate opening gaping; guards are nowhere to be found. In the two spherical window openings sit two peacocks: they shout at each other defiantly, as if they were the gentlemen here.
He got out of the favorin, leaving his slaves behind, and, accompanied by his two slaves, entered through the gate vault into the garden.
He did not find a living soul there either. Other times, the roads were scraped by the bostanji; now everything is empty here.
But he still found something that surprised us. A brass button on the side of the road. He picked it up.
Ozmanli does not wear a button. The brass doesn’t even know it. It was torn off his «franc» coat. How does a Frankish man get into the garden of beauties?
The doors to the harem were also all wide open.
Nazli-Hanem knew all the rooms and corridors of his brother’s harem; he went through them. The treasures that touched the treasures were there untouched; it could be seen all the way through the opened rooms.
He finally got to the door of the big bathroom. It had the key in its lock. The door was locked from the outside. He opened the lock and opened the door. In that room he found Mehem Ali all his wives and odalisks together. All with white eyes, having white eyes; and the eyes of the blacks rolled in terror.
When they heard the door open, they all hid in the niches, but when they saw the princess, they rushed in front of him with a loud scream, collapsed to her feet. Anis-Jel, the governor’s favorite cadina, fell on the princess’s neck and sobbed violently.
– What happened here? Nazli-Hanem asked.
“I dare not speak,” Anis-Jel trembles softly.
The other ladies, too, with their hands in front of their lips, showed that speaking was forbidden.
– What happened here that night? Who says? The princess asked.
– Talking is death! – sugá a kadina.-145-
Then came the old kadun-khiet-kuda, the agu of the eunuchs, Badrul.
– Well, I’m talking. I’m old now, and after what I saw at night, I don’t mind seeing anything more in the world.
But at that word the ladies all ran apart and Anis-Jel himself put his palms on his ears; hearing this speech is also death.
– Well, I’m not afraid of him, tell me! Nazli-Hanem said to the old man and sat down on the swollen mat, his legs under him.
“It has been a day of mourning for all of Egypt today,” old Badrul began. The governor convened chiefs of mamluks from all over the country. They were numbered four hundred and seventy-five. He sat with them for advice from morning to evening, in which the Mamluks expressed their wishes. Mehemed Ali upheld everything.
“That’s how you do with those you want to lose.”
– He shared his power with them; he ruled them over the army; he gave them a quarter of the crops of the earthly people; waived their debts for many years; proclaimed an apology for all their rebellions to date; – he hugged and kissed the biggest partisans.
– And they weren’t scared?
“Last time you gave each one a big sealed ring.”
“And they didn’t know it was the wedding ring of death?”
“Towards evening, then, when he affirmed the privileges of the mamluks with his hand on the alkoran, he invited some to his feast in the great green room. You know that room. Your egg is circular. It is surrounded by a gallery, which can only be accessed from the harem. Behind its dense lattice, harem ladies were allowed to watch the entertainments of men; they themselves remained invisible. The feast began with the rising of the star and lasted until the midnight sura sang. – This time, however, instead of the harem ladies, the-146-bass frenk’s shooters occupied the gallery. Famous hunters who shoot the chamois while running with each bullet fly the vulture. They were also four hundred and seventy-five: one for each guest. They were admitted through the garden gate, the harem, first enclosing the ladies all here in the bathroom. When the black coffee was brought in, along with the chicks, Mehemed Ali was the first to light it. Like he threw the first ring of smoke high: that was the signal. At once, the rifles of the Frank hunters rumbled and four hundred and seventy-four mamluk bosses fell dead at the feast table. Only one of them survived: Lobster Beg.
– Lobster beg! My hero.
“The coffee-filling slave hid it from the killer bullet: it was death.” He himself made his way through the bodyguards with a sword in his hand, all of whom were Frank, and then he ran out into the courtyard, picked him up in the saddle of a paripa: he who stood in his way killed him. But suddenly the drawbridge was pulled up in front of him, he could no longer escape the castle gate. Then Omar Beg climbed the steep steps of the bastion onto the ledge and jumped down from there with a reckless jump. Neither he nor his horse was in trouble: he got out on the shore of the ditch.14)
– My hero Omar! The princess applauded.
“But your hero Omar was shot by the rhinestones in the bastion tower, and he ran around with a heavy wound; but by the time Hassan reached the mosque, he felt his death: there he had helped himself from his saddle with the beggar sitting in the doorstep: he told him the mourning of the mamluks, and he died in his arms.
– Oh! Alas! Nazli-Hanem screamed, tearing her hair. Woe to him! Woe to me! Woe to them that slew him!
The princess is through the well-known corridor of the harem -147-he went over to his brother’s palace. He found Mehemed Alira in the room where he used to write. He wrote the chronicle of his own life.
– Where did you put my knights? What did you do with the flower garden of Mizraim? Where is my hero, Omar?
Mehemed Ali was a handsome big-bearded man. With a calm smile, he smoothed his palms over his beard waving all over his chest; then she caressed her sister’s crumbs of crumbly hair. Then he took her hand and led her to a narrow, pointed arched window covered with a fine gold lattice.
From the window one could see the courtyard of the palace: Nazli-Hanem saw in it the pyramids in the pool of the fountain, piling up the severed heads of the Mameluk leaders, at the top was the head of the Omar Beg. To the upper jet of water of the fountain, casting a rainbow in the twilight sun, falling in golden drops on the silent faces. Beneath the columned arcades stood Frankish soldiers, chattering and laughing, making a hunting joke by shooting their vultings, which had struck dead heads. A wind rifle was used for it, which doesn’t sound like a shot.
“What did you do, Mehmed Ali?” Nazli-Hanem screamed desperately.
“I have made myself lord in Egypt,” the governor said, pointing to the parchment sheet in the open book, where the same saying was written in gold letters.
And he made himself master! After killing the mameluk leaders, he deprived the other tens of thousands of mamelukes of his privileges and possessions with a stroke of feathers.
After that, no one had land in Egypt. All property became the property of the state.
Here is the ideal of the social state realized! There is no difference between noble and peasant; all people are equal; everyone works. No one’s property, all income belongs to the state. The state takes care of everyone,-148-he gives food to small and large alike, clothes, shelter, tobacco. The work is also allocated by the state. He who has a muscular arm will become a soldier; he who has no desire to fight, the plowman, the one with a curved back, his arms thin, will be a tailor. He who is cunning will be a merchant; the kit is troubled by some disease, it can be a poet. The state also takes care of wives for its subjects. If it is not enough of those born at home, bring it from Georgia, Circassia, Greece: this is how it breeds the breed. The state also runs schools: all people need to know the letters. No one pays taxes; no one has money; everything flows into the state treasury and leaks from there.
And this model state, which was a real respublica without a parliament, also had a power that defied the Turkish sultan, the great states of Europe, who made order in Africa and ruled on land and sea.
And the soul of this state was Mehmed Ali.
Can you understand why he wiped out all the mameluk bosses in an hour? They stood in the way of the great idea of the state.
He used French for the coup. They already understood. Descendants of «September Euros».
Nazli-Hanem turned the talisman ring three times on the thumb of his left hand and made a terrifying reception in his heart.
His first thing was to make a copper bath basin with enameled glass glaze on the inside. He then hired a trained chemist in his service.
So the Franks committed that mass murder.
By Frank they mean French, Italian. They formed Mehmed Ali’s court, council, bodyguard.
Nazli-Hanem made his usual walk in his carrier-swing every day along the path of palm trees, streets, squares, all the way to the governor’s palace; he visited the bazaars and looked through the veil at the cifra-149-frank young people in uniform. He was now wearing a veil on his face.
A young lieutenant was so bold that he waved a kiss at the princess with his hand.