Guel-Bejaze was lying beside him on an ottoman, her beautiful head, with a feeling of languid bliss, reposed on her husband’s bosom, her long eyelashes drooping, whilst with her swan-like arms she encircled his neck. She dozes away now and then, but the warm throb-throb of the strong heart which makes her husband’s breast to rise and fall continually arouses her again. Halil Patrona is reading in a big clasped book beautifully written in the ornamental Talik script. Guel-Bejaze does not know this writing; its signs are quite strange to her, but she feasts her delighted eyes on the beautifully painted festoons and lilies and the variegated birds with which the initial letters are embellished, and scarce observes what a black shadow those pretty gaily coloured, butterfly-like letters cast upon Halil’s face.
“What is the book thou art reading?” inquired Guel-Bejaze.
“Fairy tales and magic sentences,” replied Patrona.
“Is it there that thou readest all those nice stories which thou tellest me every evening?”
“Yes, they are here.”
“Tell me, I pray thee, what thou hast just been reading?”
“When thou art quite awake,” said Halil, rapturously gazing at the fair face of the girl who was sleeping in his arms—and he continued turning over the leaves of the book.
And what then was in it? What did those brightly coloured letters contain? What was the name of the book?
That book is the “Takimi Vekai.”
Ah! ask not a Mussulman what the “Takimi Vekai” is, else wilt thou make him sorrowful; neither mention it before a Mohammedan woman, else the tears will gush from her eyes. The “Takimi Vekai” is “The Book of the Sentences of the Future,” which was written a century and a half ago by Said Achmed-ibn Mustafa, and which has since been preserved in the Muhamedije mosque, only those high in authority ever having the opportunity of seeing it face to face.
Those golden letters embellished with splendid flowers contain dark sayings. Let us listen:
“Takimi Vekai”—The Pages of the Future.
“On the eighth-and-twentieth day of the month Rubi-Estani, in the year of the Hegira, 886, I, Said Achmed-ibn Mustafa, Governor of Scutari and scribe of the Palace, having accomplished the Abdestan and recited the Fateha with hands raised heavenwards, ascended to the tower of Ujuk Kule, from whence I could survey all Stambul, and there I began to meditate.
“And lo! the Prophet appeared before me, and breathed upon my eyes and ears in order that I might see and hear nothing but what he commanded me to hear and see.
“And I wrote down those things which the Prophet said to me.
“The Giaours already see the tents of the foreign hosts pitched on the Tsiragan piazza, already see the half-moon cast down, and the double cross raised on the towers of the mosques, the khanze plundered, and the faithful led forth to execution. In the Fanar quarters they are already assembling the people, and saying to one another: ’To-morrow! to-morrow!’