“Death be upon his head!” roared the furious multitude, and rolling onwards like a flood that has burst its dams it stopped a moment later before a stately palace.
“Whose is this palace?” inquired Halil of the mob.
“Damad Ibrahim’s,” cried sundry voices from among the crowd.
“Whose is that palace, I say?” inquired Halil once more, angrily shaking his head.
Then many of them understood the force of the question and exclaimed:
“Thine, O Halil Patrona!”
“Thine, thine, Halil!” thundered the obsequious crowd, and with that they rushed upon the palace, burst open the doors, and Patrona, with his wife still clasped in his arms, forced his way in, and seeking out the harem of the Grand Vizier, commanded the odalisks of Ibrahim to bow their faces in the dust before their new mistress, and fulfil all her demands. And before the door he placed a guard of honour.
Outside there was the din of battle, the roll of drums, and the blast of trumpets; and the whole of this tempest was fanned by the faint breathing of a sick and broken woman.
TULIP-BULBS AND HUMAN HEADS.
It is not every day that one can see budding tulips in the middle of September, yet the Kapudan Pasha had succeeded in hitting upon a dodge which the most famous gardeners in the world had for ages been racking their brains to discover, and all in vain.
The problem was—how to introduce an artificial spring into the very waist and middle of autumn, and then to get the tulip-bulbs to take September for May, and set about flowering there and then.
First of all he set about preparing a special forcing-bed of his own invention, in which he carefully mingled together the most nourishing soil formed among the Mountains of Lebanon from millennial deposits of cedar-tree spines, antelope manure, so heating and stimulating to vegetation, that wherever it falls on the desert, tiny oases, full of flowers and verdure, immediately spring up amidst the burning, drifting sand-hills, and burnt and pulverized black marble which is only to be found in the Dead Mountains. A judicious intermingling of this mixture produces a soft, porous, and exceedingly damp soil, and in this soil the Kapudan Pasha very carefully planted out his tulips with his own hands. He selected the bulbs resulting from last spring’s blooms, making a hole for each of them, one by one, with his index-finger, and banking them up gingerly with earth as soft as fresh bread crumbs.
Then he had snow fetched from the summits of the Caucasus, where it remains even all through the summer—whole ship loads of snow by way of the Black Sea—and kept the tulip-bulbs well covered with it, adding continually layers of fresh snow as the first layers melted, so that the hoodwinked tulips really believed it was now winter; and when towards the end of August the snow was allowed to melt altogether, they fancied spring had come, and poked their gold-green shoots out of their well-warmed, well-moistened bed.