“This letter deserves to be thrown into the fire,” said Ispirizade, and into the fire he threw it, there and then, and thereupon lay down to sleep with a good conscience.
The following day was Thursday, the 28th September. On that very day, twelve months before, the Sultan’s eleven-year-old son had died. The day was therefore kept as a solemn day of mourning, and a general cessation of martial exercises throughout the host was proclaimed by a flourish of trumpets.
To many of the commanders this day of rest was a season of strict observance. The Aga of the Janissaries withdrew to his kiosk; the Kapudan Pasha had himself rowed through the canal to his country house at Chengelkoei, having just received from a Dutch merchant a very handsome assortment of tulip-bulbs, which he wanted to plant out with his own hands; the Reis-Effendi hastened to his summer residence, beside the Sweet Waters, to take leave of his odalisks for the twentieth time at least; and the Kiaja returned to Stambul. Each of them strictly observed the day—in his own peculiar manner.
But Fate had prepared for the people at large a very different sort of observance.
Early in the morning, at sunrise, seventeen Janissaries were standing in front of the mosque of Bajazid with Halil Patrona at their head.
In the hand of each one of them was a naked sword, and in their midst stood Musli holding aloft the half-moon banner.
The people made way before them, and allowed Patrona to ascend the steps of the mosque, and when the blast of the alarm-horns had subsided, the clear penetrating voice of the ex-pedlar was distinctly audible from end to end of the great kalan square in front of him.
“Mussulmans!” he cried, “you have duties, yes, duties laid upon you by our sacred law. We are being ruined by traitors. Fugitives from the host have brought us the tidings that the army of Kueprilizade has been scattered to the winds; four thousand horses and six hundred camels, laden with provisions, have been captured by the Persians; the general himself has fled to Erivan, and the provinces of Hamadan and Kermanshan are once more in the possession of the enemy. And all this is going on while the Grand Vizier and the Chief Mufti have been arranging Lantern Feasts, Processions of Palms and Illuminations in the streets of Stambul instead of making ready the host to go to the assistance of the valiant Kueprilizade! Our brethren are sent to the shambles, we hear their cries, we see their banners falter and fall into the enemy’s hands, and we are not suffered to fly to their assistance, though we stand here with drawn swords in our hands. There is treachery—treachery against Allah and His Prophet! Therefore, let every true believer forsake immediately his handiwork, cast his awl, his hammer, and his plane aside, and seize his sword instead; let him close his booth and rally beneath our standard!”