“Hasten, hasten! we can have too much of this hugging and kissing,” whispered Musli, lifting one of the jars on to his shoulders.
Yet Halil pressed one more long, long kiss on Guel-Bejaze’s trembling cheek.
“By Allah!” said he, “it shall not be long before we see each other again.”
And thus their ways parted right and left.
Musli conducted Janaki away in one direction, through a subterranean cellar, whilst Halil fled away across the house-tops, and within a quarter of an hour the pair of them arrived at the Etmeidan.
What a noise, what a commotion in the streets of Stambul! The multitude pours like a stream towards the harbour of the Golden Horn. Young and old stimulate each other with looks of excitement and enthusiasm. They stand together at the corners of the streets in tens and twenties, and tell each other of the great event that has happened. On the Etmeidan, in front of the Seraglio, in the doors of the mosques, the people are swarming, and from street to street they accompany the banner-bearing Duelbendar, who proclaims to the faithful amidst the flourish of trumpets that Sultan Achmed III. has declared war against Tamasip, Shah of Persia.
Everywhere faces radiant with enthusiasm, everywhere shouts of martial fervour.
From time to time a regiment of Janissaries or a band of Albanian horsemen passes across the street, or escorts the buffaloes that drag after them the long heavy guns on wheeled carriages. The mob in its thousands follows them along the road leading to Scutari, where the camp has already been pitched. For at last, at any rate, the Padishah is surfeited with so many feasts and illuminations, and after having postponed the raising of the banner of the Prophet, under all sorts of frivolous excuses, from the 18th day of Safer (2nd of September) to the 1st day of Rebusler, and from that day again to the Prophet’s birthday ten days later still, the expected, the appointed day is at length drawing near, and the whole host is assembling beneath the walls of Scutari, only awaiting the arrival of the Sultan to take ship at once—the transports are all ready—and hasten to the assistance of the heroic Kueprilizade on the battlefield.
The whole Bosphorus was a living forest planted with a maze of huge masts and spreading sails, and a thousand variegated flags flew and flapped in the morning breeze. The huge line of battle-ships, with their triple decks and their long rows of oars, looked like hundred-eyed sea-monsters swimming with hundreds of legs on the surface of the water, and the booming reverberation of the thunder of their guns was re-echoed from the broad foreheads of the palaces looking into the Bosphorus.