The Chief Mufti did not believe it to be possible to lead the host to battle just then; but he wished it to be withdrawn from Stambul, lest it should be affected by the spirit of rebellion.
The Kiaja advised negociating with the rebels and pacifying them that way.
At this last proposal the Sultan nodded his head approvingly. The Sultana Khadija was also of the same opinion.
As to the mode of carrying out these negociations there was some slight difference of detail between the plan of the Kiaja and the plan of the Sultana. In the opinion of the former, while the negociations were still proceeding, the ringleaders of the rebellion were to be quietly disposed of one after the other, whereas the Sultana insinuated that the Sultan should appease the rebels by handing over to them the detested Kiaja and any of the other great officers of state whose heads the mob might take a fancy to. And that, of course, was a very different thing.
The Sultan thought the counsel of the Kiaja the best.
At that very moment, the Kapudan Pasha, Abdi, entered
Everybody regarded him with astonishment. According to the account of the Kiaja he had already been cut into a thousand pieces.
He came in with just as much sangfroid as he displayed when he had ridden through the rebellious city. He inquired of the doorkeepers as he passed through whether his messengers had arrived yet with the tulips. “No,” was the reply. “Then where have they got to, I wonder,” he muttered; “since I quitted them I have been from one end of Stambul to the other?”
Then he saluted the Sultan, and in obedience to a gesture from the Padishah, took his place among the viziers, and they regarded him with as much amazement as if it was his ghost that had come among them.
“You have been in Stambul, I understand?” inquired the Grand Vizier at last.
“I have just come from thence within the last hour.”
“What do the people want?” asked the Padishah.
“They want to eat and drink.”
“It is blood they would drink then,” murmured the Chief Mufti in his beard.
“And what do they complain about?”
“They complain that the sword does not wage war of its own accord, and that the earth does not produce bread without being tilled, and that wine and coffee do not trickle from the gutters of the houses.”
“You speak very lightly of the matter, Abdi. How do you propose to pacify this uproar?”
“The thing is quite simple. The cobblers and petty hucksters of Stambul are not worth a volley, and, besides, I would not hurt the poor things if possible. Many of them have wives and children. Those who have stirred them up are in the camp of the Janissaries—there you will find their leaders. It would be a pity, perhaps, to destroy all who have excited the people in Stambul to revolt, but they ought to be led forth regiment by regiment and every tenth man of them shot through the head. That will help to smooth matters.”