Chapter Twenty – Forbidden Love

As soon as she woke up in the morning, Nihal opened her window. She had decided on a task the night before: to write a letter to Mlle de Courton, and this time, to talk of something heretofore unmentioned, namely, of Behlül, and of her happiness. Before her, the green ridges and white buildings of Heybeli were washed in a copious flood of sunshine, a light breeze was giving Nihal’s yellow hair sweet-smelling kisses, and the white room, looking upon the sea that spread its sunny blue waves, seemed to be beaming with a different, relaxed delight in its morning smile.

Nihal was pleased; without knowing quite why, in the evening, right after dinner, she had wanted to escape everyone, especially Behlül, as if afraid that this fragile dream of happiness would be injured by a momentary unkind, rough touch. And when she found herself alone here, she had felt the sudden overflowing need for someone beside her, someone to talk to about her happiness in this secluded intimacy. Someone whose presence would not infringe on this solitude, someone who resembled a vision of affection watching her from a distance. She had thought of Mlle de Courton; she would tell her everything she wanted to say. As she wrote, she would see the old girl’s cheerful, smiling face, and under her gaze she would describe the page of springtide that had unfolded in the book of her heart. This page that promised sunshine and happiness, this page came after pages that were so worn with tears and despair, and ended their pain with such bright joy, that as she listened, the old girl would be as happy as Nihal. Had she not told her little Nihal so, on that last night? Had she not said that she would be happy whenever she had news of her happiness?

Yet, when Nihal sat on her chair to write, her eyes remained fixed absently on the blank sheet, in the wavering light of her candle, and she had been unable to find the first word of this bright page. There was a secret, indescribable fear in her, a hint in the intoxicating air of this happiness that made her tremble a little, that seemed purposefully to draw a thin line of darkness on this new, clear horizon, and kept her from surrendering herself entirely to her felicity.

She had wanted to understand this fear. She only found something in her heart that ached like a deep point of pain. This marriage had been thought of, and put into motion for others’ happiness, not hers. Following what dark, winding traces, she saw her father preparing this alliance in secret with Firdevs Hanım and Behlül, working to be free of this fractious girl. Then she felt a great enmity towards her father. How many times, moved by this feeling, in order to be avenged on them, she had wanted to dare to begin a mutiny that would put an end to this jest; but each time, with an irresistible weakness hampering her, she had felt a laxity that made her desire its continuation. Did she love Behlül? As she posed this question to herself, she felt the need to shake her head to give emphasis to the reply.

‘I don’t suppose so,’ she would say, but again there was a truth that she admitted to herself: perhaps she did not love Behlül, but she wanted to be loved by him. She thought this was enough to be happy; then, when this jest ended in a reality that night, Nihal suddenly found herself reading those lines in her heart that had remained doubtful until then. Yes, she loved Behlül, too. And who knew, since what hour? Yes, she loved him, she could only be his wife. Once she had confessed this, she felt freed of a great load.

And this was so, yet again she could not find a single word to place upon this white paper, to tell of her happiness. She gave up trying to write. She would write in the morning; she was sure she could write in peace once the excitement of the things she wished to write about had passed. But this morning, under the sun that entered through her window in a wide wave, before this blue sea, she could only write one line:

Mademoiselle, she was saying, finally your itty bitty Nihal is giving up her lonely life, and reaching out her hand to someone, someone you know well, and itty bitty Nihal is so happy, so happy that she cannot find more than these few words to write to you.

As Nihal was dressing, there was a knock at the door, and her aunt’s voice asked, ‘Nihal, are you hungry?’

When Nihal opened the door, her aunt came in, her white hair dishevelled, and with an awful expression on her face.

‘Nihal, you don’t know,’ she said, ‘Beşir had such a terrible night!.. He must have caught cold yesterday evening, for he has been burning with a fever all night. He finally dozed off now.’

Nihal turned pale; her eyes trembled as she listened. The old aunt, shaking her head in deep sorrow, and leaning on Nihal’s bedstead, added, ‘this child… I do believe…’ She did not finish. They were looking at each other. 

Nihal, wringing her hands, said in great misery, ‘but a cure; there must be a cure, aunt? We must save Beşir. Beşir will be saved, won’t he, aunt?’

There was such a pitiful urgency in Nihal, such a lamentation in her call for help, that the old aunt found it necessary, in the present lull, to give her some assurance. Doubtless, it was nothing to fear. They had sent for the doctor. Those cedarwood ointments had shown their effect in just a couple of days. It was just that last night his coughing had increased, probably because of the damp. There would certainly be an improvement after this sleep.

They found Beşir, unconscious, sleeping in his bed. Nihal waited by him, silent, her eyes ready to release their tears, fixed on Beşir’s face — grown gaunt, and completely frozen overnight — feeling impatience at the doctor who still had not arrived. For a moment, Beşir opened his eyes. He saw Nihal first, with glazed eyes, as if he were still asleep. With an effort he wanted to raise his head from his pillow; then finding, through his abstraction, a bleary smile to send Nihal, he slept again. Nihal looked around her for help. She remembered Behlül. Where was he? Nesrin told her that he had gone to the pier.

The doctor came after a long, interminable wait. Nihal stood always by the side of the bed, looking down at the sleeping Beşir. She did not have the strength to be present at the examination. She waited outside the door.

‘He has frightened you for no reason,’ the doctor assured her. ‘A little care, avoiding the chill, and especially,’ — he was smiling as he spoke — ‘evening wanderings…’

Without finishing his sentence, he was shaking Nihal’s hand with a little smile that left a weak hope of recovery. ‘And then, little hanım,’ he was saying, ‘sick rooms are never good places for anyone, at any time. You do understand, don’t you?’

Nihal was not listening, was not hearing. She went back into Beşir’s room. He was awake, sitting up in bed. He smiled when he saw Nihal. It was as if he had improved just by the doctor’s passage through his room.

‘How are you, Beşir?’ asked Nihal.

Beşir looked around without answering, and not seeing anyone other than Nesrin in the room, he said, ‘let us go from here, little hanım.’

‘Of course we will go,’ said Nihal. ‘But in a few days. You must be able to get up, walk around a bit.’

Beşir was shaking his head. He wanted to leave today, right now. There was nothing wrong with him, he could stand up now if he wanted to. 

Nihal was smiling, diverting him with words that made one hope for everything, without promising anything, as if she were beguiling a child.

That day at lunch, Nihal, sitting alone with her aunt, silent, thinking only of Beşir, ate hardly a thing.

Following her afternoon nap, Nihal had left her room, and was going downstairs to ask after Beşir, when she heard a carriage stop outside the house, and a moment later, Bülent’s voice.

‘Bülent! Is it you, Bülent?..’ she called.

Bülent was with Behlül. He had regretted not coming yesterday, and had gone down to the Bridge that morning to run to see his sister. As Bülent spoke, there was something in his expression particular to those who are acting out a rehearsed comedy, and he seemed to glance up at Behlül occasionally with a smile. Nihal, not heeding this, not even entirely listening to them, told them about Beşir.

‘But Beşir! Who knows!’ she was saying, and wringing her hands in her usual nervous way, she was leaving her awful, unanswerable question in the air.

Bülent started towards Beşir’s room. Nihal made a move to do the same, but Behlül reached out a hand to detain her.

‘Nihal,’ he said, ‘I’m going to have to leave you alone here today. I need to go down to Istanbul.’

There was such a strange dryness in his tone that it affected Nihal more than his words. After a short pause, she said, ‘I thought you would stay here today.’

Then Behlül explained, in a long-winded, convoluted way. He had something to do that he had forgotten about until he found himself on the pier just now. If it had not been necessary to ask leave of little Nihal, he would have jumped on the ferry straight away. But tomorrow evening, of course, with no further impediment…

‘Then you will return tomorrow evening,’ said Nihal, with an ungovernable cry. Then, suddenly turning red, doubtless embarrassed by her heart’s artlessness, she added, in an effort to appear nonchalant, ‘would you do me a favour? I have a letter to be dropped into the postbox. You know, of course, to whom it’s addressed?..’

Nihal did not want to let Behlül speak any further. As he talked, as he gave her that explanation a moment ago, she had felt something that pained her. Earlier, as she had listened without really attending to Bülent, she had felt a similar hurt scratch at her heart. She was going up to her room to fetch the letter. Behlül followed her.

‘What shall I bring you, Nihal?’ he asked.

‘Everything, or nothing,’ she said as she sealed the envelope. ‘Don’t forget my letter. That will be enough.’

As she said this, she thought of the letter. This letter, this piece of paper that was the agent to convey the news of her happiness! Who knows how, but with a moment’s fearful trembling that passed through her heart, she found this letter to have become something of a lie. But this feeling had passed so quickly, leaving barely a trace, that Nihal could not stop herself handing it to Behlül. Behlül was taking out his pocketbook, taking on comical attitudes as he placed Nihal’s tiny letter, with exaggerated care, in a safe spot where it would not be lost.

‘Here,’ he was saying, ‘now little Nihal’s letter won’t be lost. Behlül may be lost in the world, the world may be lost in the heavens, but Mlle de Courton’s letter can never be lost in here.’

Nihal was smiling vaguely, but not replying. As Behlül took out his pocketbook, a small piece of paper had slipped out, and fallen right at his feet.

As soon as Nihal saw this, she opened her mouth to say, ‘you dropped a piece of paper,’ but a sudden feeling awakening inside her made her hold back. She wanted this paper to remain there, so she could look at it, and read it. She thought that this slip would tell her why Behlül wished to leave… The excuses he had given her earlier were simply things that had been laid out in order to hide the true reason, of that she was certain. A short struggle began within her. How would she reach out and take something that belonged to someone else? What right did she have to take something hidden from her?

She wanted Behlül to stop standing there, to go out and leave, so that she did not have to answer these questions. After he had gone, when she was left alone with this paper, her curiosity would be victorious, and she would read it. All at once this became so important that if she could not read it, she decided that she would go mad, that she would not be able to go on living.

Behlül had replaced his pocketbook in his pocket, and he still did not see the paper.

‘You are not upset with me, are you, Nihal?’ he was saying. 

Nihal could not find the strength to reply; she shook her head. She was completely pale. As Behlül left, she leant against the wall with a sudden weakness that loosened all her limbs. The paper had remained where it was. As the minutes passed, its importance grew; it seemed to smile treacherously, with the promise of strange secrets. Nihal was still, listening, a thrumming in her ears, and her breast heaving with agitation. She was waiting for Behlül to leave the house. Until then, she could not dare. Long minutes passed. Then there was the sound of a carriage. Nihal ran to the window. In the carriage, Behlül turned his head and waved at her; a moment later he was lost in a cloud of dust. Then Nihal ran to the paper, unfolded it, and read it, at first with blurry eyes and mind, as if in a fog, not comprehending. It contained only two lines.

She has confessed everything. That plan is no longer feasible. Be here this evening at all costs.

Nihal took a deep breath. There was nothing in this. Then, following only a second’s relief, she  felt as if a fiery needle was stabbing at her heart. All at once these two lines had turned into an awful book of truth. She read it again. There was no signature. The hand was composed of thin letters, like shrunken children who had never found the strength to grow, a woman’s hand, Firdevs Hanım’s hand…

Yes, it was Firdevs Hanım’s handwriting. Nihal now saw beneath these two lines, not a signature, but Firdevs Hanım herself, her face, her eyes that seemed to look out from dark wells, full of treachery.

What was the plan that was no longer feasible? Who had confessed all? Looking at the paper in her hand, she was asking it for further secrets. ‘Tell me! Why are you silent? You can confess everything now, too!’ she was telling it.

Suddenly it was as if this piece of paper was torn, and from its centre appeared Bihter’s face. Bihter, yes, it was Bihter who had confessed. Then a cloud broke apart in Nihal’s brain, a cloud that obscured with smoke, that stifled everything in a black pall. She could not think any longer, now, she was trying not to hear the questions that threatened to explode out of her mind, and those screws that seemed to dig into the nape of her neck during her nervous fits, were drilling into her brain with slow turns of their threads.

She stood up suddenly, and clutching the paper in her hand, said, ‘I will go, I will go, too.’

She was speaking out loud. Then, nothing living in her mind except the thought of leaving, she dressed. What was she going to say to her aunt? Of course she would find something. She called to Nesrin.

When Nesrin arrived, she said, in a decided tone, ‘we’re leaving.’ Then, growing angry at her surprise, she shouted with a choked voice, ‘what are you standing there for? Why are you looking at me like that? I’m telling you, we’re going. Don’t you understand? Right now…’

The old aunt, hearing Nihal’s voice, had run to see what was the matter. She did not understand this hasty resolution, thought that she must have offended Nihal, and was asking for an explanation.

‘Nothing, nothing,’ Nihal was saying, as she continued her preparations. ‘There’s no reason. How can I convince you, my dear aunt? You know I have strange fancies sometimes. This is one of those, nothing more! I’ll return tomorrow morning…’

She was speaking in broken, feverish phrases, then, kissing her confused aunt as she passed, she was calling to Nesrin.

‘What’s taking you so long, Nesrin? You’re always like this.’

When there was nothing more she could do, she sat in her sheet, opposite her aunt, and watching her with dry eyes, without saying a word, but with her right foot tapping regularly at the wood, she waited.

Her aunt questioned her again. ’So there really is no reason?’

Nihal, shaking her head, indicated in silence that it was, ‘nothing, nothing!’

Bülent entered the room. He looked silently at his sister. Nihal did not seem to have seen him.  This child, who had — albeit innocently — been an intermediary in this game, who had joined those who wanted to make her miserable, was deemed guilty. Bülent, not understanding, thought there was a connection between the little letter that Firdevs Hanım had sent him there to deliver, and first Behlül, and now Nihal’s departures. What was that little piece of paper that had exploded like a tempest in his aunt’s calm mansion?

He looked at Nihal with questioning eyes, unable to pluck up the courage to speak. Nihal avoided his gaze. Only when Nesrin came, ready, did Bülent dare to ask, ‘will you take me with you?’

Nihal replied in one word only, one decisive word that brooked no refusal: ‘no!..’

She exchanged kisses with her aunt. ‘I will be back in a day or two, aunt! Do not touch my white room,’ she was saying. Then, remembering something at the bottom of the stairs, she turned to her aunt, who was descending behind her, and added, ‘you will look after my Beşir, won’t you, aunt? I will return chiefly for you, but also a little for him…’

As Nihal waved one last time to her aunt, and was passing the door of the hall, she froze in slow surprise. Before her stood Beşir. He was there, ready, wearing the dress that was now so loose it hung from him like a cloak. His lips, those poor, parched, pale lips, had bared his white teeth in a contented smile, and in his eyes was a laughter that rejuvenated him in the fire of a new life. He was coming with them.

‘Impossible,’ Nihal was saying.

Beşir, always smiling, always with that glint of laughter, was disobeying Nihal for the first time, and silently, with the strength of a man sure of his ability, he was taking Nihal’s bag. No protest had any effect on him.

He had called on a passing carriage, and, not wishing to listen to anyone, had descended the stairs of the mansion. Nihal and Nesrin followed him. They did not make the ferry. Nihal had not thought of this possibility. Not landing on the same ferry as Behlül was a stroke of luck. She waited on the pier, among the porters. There was something that kept Nihal from thinking, until the ferry had departed. Nesrin had tried to make her talk once or twice, but she only raised her eyebrows and remained silent. The ache at the nape of her neck that drilled into her brain was making her suffer. When the ferry moved, the noise of the machine seemed to wake her from a dream. She sat up straight, and looked about her. She was alone with Nesrin. 

Nesrin was gazing back at her. She asked Nihal again, ‘why did you decide to leave in such a hurry? Did you hear some news from the yalı?’

Nihal answered calmly. ‘No, nothing.’ Then she grew angry all of a sudden, that she was being questioned thus. It was not possible for her to take a single step without being met with a slew of whys and wherefores. Everyone was meddling in her affairs. She had felt like going down, and she was, so what? Why were they interfering in such a simple thing? Everyone at home would question her. Her father chief of all… She would tell him why she wanted to come down, before anyone. She yelled in Nesrin’s face. ‘Do you hear? I will tell him, before anyone else,’ she was saying.

Something caught in her throat. She thought it would overflow in a flood of tears, but then this knot stuck, and without crying, without saying another word, she leaned her head back, and closed her eyes, wanting to think to the rhythm of the ferry’s light rocking.

Yes, why was she going down? As soon as she saw those two lines, she had had the idea of leaving the Island, of going home, and once this idea had taken hold, she had not had time to think of anything else. What was she going to do now? As this question drew with a pen that scratched at her mind, she was seeing herself standing before her father. She was going to crumple that piece of paper in her hand, and throw it in his face.

‘There, you crushed your daughter’s life just like that,’ she would say, ‘you crumpled it, turned it to tatters, and now you can toss her out of the window.’

So this woman who had taken her mother’s place, this wife of her father’s, this creature who had taken everything from her one by one, with a ruthless anger, was finally reaching her claws to take her last source of happiness. So they had tricked her? So this marriage was a joke? An awful, treacherous game devised to kill her?

She was seeing Behlül at her feet, hearing his pleading voice that trembled with an intense emotion. Behlül, at the edge of a forest that opened up under a green moon into a love nest, was saying, ‘I love you, little Nihal.’ In fact, he was coming to realise that he had always loved her. His only hope of happiness lay in this marriage. How happy she had been until that morning! She thought of the letter she had written to Mlle de Courton: little Nihal is so happy, so happy,’ she had said. Half an hour later, little Nihal had grown so wretched, so so wretched…

Lying paper! And how painfully strange that this page was now in Behlül’s pocket, smiling secretly with its false tidings of happiness. Behlül’s hand would shortly drop it in the post box. And in a few days, when that lying piece of paper was far away, fooling someone who thought of Nihal, who knew what would happen to Nihal here?

So this wedding would not take place? She repeated those two lines in her mind: “She has confessed everything. That plan is no longer feasible… Be here this evening at all costs!”

Suddenly her heart trembled with a hope. Maybe this was nothing! Perhaps the plan mentioned was something not at all concerned with her. Then, against this hope, she was hearing the mocking laughter of a treacherous voice in her heart, and felt an iron hand pierce her breast and tear at her lungs. In a flash, through the intermingling of what wandering thoughts kindling into a spark of understanding, she saw the truth hidden between these two lines, that awful truth. This was but a moment’s flicker. Until then, she had seen nothing but the treacherous face of a woman who wanted to make her miserable. Now, behind this face, she saw the countenance of that dirty, that ugly truth.

So that was how it was?..

Opening her eyes, she glanced at Nesrin. Perhaps she knew all. Not only her, but everyone knew, and had only hidden it from Nihal. To make her even more miserable, to kill her with a more potent weapon. There was another miserable wretch who had been betrayed alongside her: her father!.. Poor man! Then she found a strange comfort in being made miserable by the same blow, together. This blow would kill her, but she would be avenged on her father… This was filling her heart with such a wild satisfaction that she blessed this blow that would take her revenge on her father by killing her.

Finally, she was gaining her victory, her justice; by dying, by giving up her life, but finally it would be known! She would run laughing to her father, show him the piece of paper.

‘Here,’ she would say, ‘do you see? Behlül cannot be a husband to your daughter, because he is the lover of the woman who came in place of my mother. This will kill your itty bitty Nihal a little, but what’s the harm in that? Since you have possessed the choicest woman in Istanbul…’

How she would laugh as she spoke, and then, as she laughed, fall at this father’s feet, and still laughing, glad to die, how happily she would give up her life. Yes, that was why she had wanted to escape the Island, to return home. It was necessary for her to die, in order for her vengeance on her father to be complete. With the comforting lightness of this thought, she stood up. She gazed out of the window, in order not to think further. The ferry was taking on passengers from Heybeli, chatting, unhurried, as they alighted. She watched them for a long while. As the ferry left the pier, she continued to watch the waves that ran from her gaze. After a clear morning, there was now a bleariness in the air, a tendency towards rain. With a listlessness as if there was nothing on her mind, she attended to the weather, followed, for a long while, the mists that heralded the approaching rain, and then dispersed.

‘I think we will be caught in the rain,’ she said to Nesrin. 

Her poor sheet!.. Now she was sorry for her sheet, the sheet that had been made for her and Bihter that spring, of a dark green with faint speckles. Then she thought to herself, ‘since I am to die.’ 

So poor Nihal was really going to die. They could give this dark green sheet to an orphan girl. And she remembered one by one, all those dresses, and sheets that had been made lovingly, those thousand little things that filled her drawers. All these were now pointless, they would be thrown away, given to the poor. Yet in each of these things was hidden some tie to her, there were such strong bonds between them and her heart. It was necessary to forget these, and even things that had been thought of for the future. A large, velvet case was opening up before her, and looking at her with its smiling, green eyes. She would have to relinquish this too, this set of emeralds, since she was no longer going to be a bride.

So that was how it was?

This question was reemerging in her mind. She was sitting down again, again with her eyes closed, again thinking along to the soft rocking of the ferry. An aggressive hunt was waking further little details in her memory. She was remembering Şayeste and Nesrin’s words, that at the time she had not understood, but now became meaningful. Then, when that planned wedding was spoken of, she was seeing Şakire Hanım indicate someone with the corner of her eye, and say, ‘and?’ Suddenly she recollected the handkerchief, the wet handkerchief that she had seen one day in Behlül’s room. That day, when it held no meaning, it had yet occupied her. Without attaching any particular meaning to it, she had felt pained at Bihter’s handkerchief being discovered in Behlül’s room, and then had forgotten about it completely. Why now, months later, among these thoughts, at this tortuous hour, had she recalled this irrelevant detail?

So she was always going to Behlül’s room. If so, why had they tricked this child, yes, this oblivious child? So Behlül had not loved her. He did not love her, had been lying last night, sitting at her feet? She sat up, opened her eyes, and writhed in an effort to control the cry of anguish that rose from a smarting wound in her soul. Nesrin was dozing opposite her.

They had always slept before her like this. But she was going to wake them now, especially her father, yes, she would go and shake her father, and say, ‘it’s time to wake up. Yes, it’s time, you’ve killed your daughter.’

She could not cry, there was still that knot in her throat that stopped her, that grew ever tighter as if to strangle her. And watching the sleeping Nesrin with her dry eyes, she was pressing her hands against her chest, and occasionally shaking loose of the confused, crowded thoughts that filled her mind with their dreadful flow, she asked herself:

So that was how it was?

She took a deep breath on the Bosphorus ferry. They were finally arriving. She kept turning her head to look out the window. They were with some garrulous women who kept her from thinking. There was a woman who had got on at Beşiktaş who, a few minutes after meeting two ladies who had got on with Nihal at the Bridge, was crying as she told the sad tale of how her daughter had died of consumption. Nihal was watching the great black cloud above Beylerbeyi [1] that waited to dissolve, and said to herself, ‘to die, to die of consumption, young, yet a child, how lovely.’ And she saw her father crying.

Then she saw the Küçüksu Pavilion, [2] and her searching eyes gazed on the entrance to Göksu for a long while. She was remembering the feast that had taken place there. That was the first morning she had brimmed over. How frantically Mlle de Courton had tried to control Nihal’s outbursts. She too, yes, she too knew the whole truth. She was the one who had spoken that sentence in her ear: avoid Behlül!.. She was hearing this sentence in the old governess’s voice, and only now was she finding the significance that heralded a deadly threat in those two words. That day in Göksu, under the tree, as she was speaking of the little sorrows that weighed on her heart with the weight of stones, how the old girl had comforted her, enveloping her in the warm embrace of her loving gaze. Now it was not one of those small sorrows that tore at her heart, that crushed and battered it, it was the end of her whole life, her whole happiness. This man, this Behlül, who only last night had taken her to a new, bright horizon on the wings of a murmuring that numbed her, was apparently a predatory creature to be avoided, for he had wanted to tear her wretched, innocent heart, had wanted to drink its blood to the last drop. And Nihal had loved this monster. Really, had she loved him?

‘No, quite the reverse, I feel enmity towards him,’ she was saying to herself.

Göksu, and the old walls of the fortress [3] had been left far behind, but she was still watching absently. Nesrin told her that they had arrived. Finally, yes, finally they had arrived. At the quay, Beşir was walking ahead, squeezing his shoulders in his loose clothing to try to keep from coughing. Nihal was looking at the windows of the yalı.

All at once she thought, what if that wasn’t the case, what if she had been mistaken in her unlikely suspicions?

This message might not have come today. Who knew to what time, to what subject it pertained? Perhaps Behlül really had left her today because he had recalled an unavoidable duty. Perhaps, a moment later, she would find everything in the yalı in its familiar state, and Behlül would not be there, would not even come tonight. Then how happy she would be. She would laugh at her childishness, and ask Behlül’s forgiveness without saying why.

‘Forgive me, that’s all,’ she would say. Then she would even love Bihter, once her innocence was realised, she would forget all the childish things that had kept her from loving Bihter until then.

At the yalı, she asked Şayeste, who was springing down the stairs to meet them, ‘had Behlül Bey arrived?..’

Şayeste was surprised. Behlül Bey had not been seen for days. Was he not on the Island?

Nihal could not answer her questions. He had not come. That was what she needed. She was going to throw her arms around Şayeste’s neck, and kiss her. He had not come, and he would not come. Now Nihal was certain.

‘What childishness,’ she was saying to herself, and as she threw her sheet into Nesrin’s arms, she was laughing at this childishness.

Adnan Bey and Bihter had been sitting with Firdevs Hanım. They were all surprised when Bihter came up to the hall. Nihal was laughing. She looked at her father.

‘I came for you,’ she was saying, then looking at all the others, she added, ‘I came for all of you. Nihal will run away again tomorrow morning.’

She had kissed Bihter, she reached her forehead to Firdevs Hanım, and then she talked of her white room, of her aunt, of her outings, with the vivacity of a chatty canary. She was finding comical words, imitating her aunt, and laughing intermittently. She even told Bihter that they had chanced to see someone when they had gone out for a ride among the pines last night.

‘Guess who we happened to see,’ she was saying.

Bihter, completely pale, noting only that Nihal and Behlül had been out in the carriage together, but trying to look disinterested, asked, ‘who?’

‘So the fiancées went for a ride last night?’ Adnan Bey was asking, with a smile.

Nihal, only answering him with a laugh, was telling Bihter about the chance encounter. She was finding herself entirely returned to her happiness. There was such a joy within her, that she wanted to kiss her father, Bihter, Firdevs Hanım, and then tell them, ‘you don’t know, I came down for such a childish reason.’

As she spoke to Bihter, she was deciding for herself, ‘back to the Island tomorrow.’ He would surely return to the Island without stopping here.

Then suddenly, a line of sorrow appeared on that merry forehead.

‘Oh!’ she said, ‘I haven’t told you about Beşir, but Beşir is dying.’

She told them at length. They all wanted to see Beşir. They sent Nesrin. Adnan Bey was asking Bihter to send for the doctor. Nesrin brought news that Beşir had felt dizzy upon their arrival, and shivering, without even undressing, he had lain down in his bed.

They all made haste. Adnan Bey and Bihter ran. Nihal began to follow them, then turning at once back to Firdevs Hanım, she leaned and whispered in her ear, ‘you will tell my father that Nihal has consented.’ Then she ran away.

Previous Chapter // First Chapter // Next Chapter

Notes

[1] Beylerbeyi Palace was built between 1861 and 1865, as the summer residence of Sultan Abdülaziz. Nihal is looking west, towards the Asian shore.

[2] The Küçüksu Pavilion is a small summer residence near the entrance to Göksu, completed in 1857 for Sultan Abdülmecid I.

[3] The Anadoluhisarı (Anatolian Fortress) on the Asian shore, nearly opposite the Rumeli Fortress on the European side.


Sign Up For Updates

Enter your email address below and I will notify you when new chapters are posted.

Roses, book & quill
Roses, book & quill
Lady Writer

I write about literature, language, love, and living off your pen. Also, fortifying fiction, personal amelioration, and tea.

Roses, book & quill
Roses, book & quill
Learn from a master
Roses, book & quill
Search

NEIL GAIMAN'S WRITING MASTERCLASS. LEARN MORE. MARGARET ATWOOD MASTERCLASS.

This page contains affiliate links which help support the site.

Angie Makes Feminine WordPress Themes