Guel-Bejaze wanted the child to be called Ferhad, or Sender, as so many of the children of the poor were wont to be called; but Halil gave him the name of Behram. “He is a man-child,” said Halil, “who will one day be called to great things.”
Human calculations, human hopes, what are they? To-day the tree stands full of blossoms, to-morrow it lies prone on the ground, cut down to the very roots.
Who shall strive with the Almighty, and from what son of man does the Lord God take counsel?
Halil stole on tip-toe to the bed of his wife who was playing with the child; she did not perceive him till he was quite close to her. How they rejoiced together! The baby wandered from hand to hand; how they embraced and kissed it! Both of them seemed to live their lives over again in the little child.
And now old Janaki also drew nigh. His face was smiling, but whenever he opened his mouth his words were sad and gloomy. All joy vanished from his life the moment he was made a voivode, just as if he felt that only Death could relieve him of that dignity. He had a peculiar joy in perpetually prophesying evil things.
“If only you could bring the child up!” he cried; “but you will not live long enough to do that. Men like you, Halil, never live long, and I don’t want to survive you. You will see me die, if see you can; and when you die, your child will be doubly an orphan.”
With such words did he trouble them. They were always relieved when, at last, he would creep into a corner and fall asleep from sheer weariness, for his anxiety made him more and more somnolent as he grew older.
But again the door opened, and there entered the Kadun-Kiet-Khuda, the guardian of the ladies of the Seraglio, accompanied by two slave-girls carrying a splendid porcelain pitcher, which they deposited at the sick woman’s bed with this humble salutation:
“The Sultana Valide greets thee and sends thee this sherbet!” The Sultana Valide, or Dowager, used only to send special messages to the Sultan’s favourite wives when they lay in child-bed; this, therefore, was a great distinction for the wife of Halil Patrona—or a great humiliation for the Sultana.
And a great humiliation it certainly was for the latter.
It was by the command of Sultan Mahmud that the Sultana had sent the sherbet.
“You see,” said Halil, “the great ones of the earth kiss the dust off your feet. There are slaves besides those in the bazaars, and the first become the last. Rejoice in the present, my princess, and catch Fortune on the wing.”
“Fortune, Halil,” said his wife with a mournful smile, “is like the eels of the Bosphorus, it slips from your grasp just as you fancy you hold it fast.”
And Halil believed that he held it fast in his grasp.
The highest officers of state were his friends and colleagues, the Sultan himself was under obligations to him, for indeed Halil had fetched him from the dungeon of the Seven Towers to place him on the throne.