Chapter Twenty-Two – Forbidden Love

Having spent the last of her strength in playing this farce of indifference, Nihal, weary as if she had just emerged from battle, as if her bones had been broken, locked the door as soon as she entered her room. It was evening now. Behlül would certainly not come. So this fear had been nothing but childishness. How had she imagined it? She was trying to laugh at herself. As she opened her window, in order not to think on this subject, she said almost aloud to herself, ‘poor Beşir.’

She wanted to transfer these feelings to Beşir.

The weather was totally overcast; the clouds above her piled upon each other in black clusters. Undoubtedly, it would rain. Nihal sat there, leaning her elbow on the windowsill. It was thundering in the distance, with a deep rumble, the odd large drop was falling on the dust-covered leaves of the trees. There were just such clusters of clouds piling up in her head, and far away, in the depths of her brain, thunderous rumblings. Then, as lightning kindled with a series of liquid blue lights, she, shivering with the lightning flashes that flared and died in her brain, was saying, ‘he won’t come.’

And again she wanted to think of Beşir. She had finally realised today that Beşir would die. But she was angry at herself that she could not think of Beşir, could not pity him entirely. Why wasn’t she crying?

Opening her eyes, she was looking at the garden, at the big raindrops that were now falling more frequently. Some of these were falling on the window’s weathered wood. She reached out her hand; these warm raindrops were dripping into her hand. The sooty clouds were following each other across the darkening sky, and right above her head, the rain, cracking with thunder, was falling in a great current. The air was damp, and a little chill after the rain’s first warmth. This time, the black clouds were torn with a red, rather than a blue flame; then the rain fell, and fell, in a fine, dense profusion, swelling the sands of the garden, and washing the trees. Now it was as if a black wall was being built before her eyes. Night was falling.

She had withdrawn her hand, and was drying it on her handkerchief. And as she slowly dried her hand, she was thinking that Behlül could not come after this hour. How happy she was. First thing tomorrow morning she was going to rush back to the Island, to her white room. Behlül would come there too, perhaps would have arrived even before her.

Suddenly she heard a sound, a male voice that was not her father’s; it seemed as if there was someone in the hall with Firdevs Hanım. She could not breathe. Was it Behlül? She was moving away from the window and listening, and then she heard another voice: a high, woman’s voice. Then she recalled: someone had mentioned that Peyker and her husband would join them that evening.

They were laughing in the hall. Firdevs Hanım’s laughter was hovering above all the voices.

‘They must have got wet,’ Nihal thought to herself. Then she was angry at the laughter. While Beşir, down there, was condemned to death, they were laughing.

With a knot in her heart, she watched the rain for a long time. The drops were thinning; small patches of blue were appearing in the sky, only to be quickly covered over. All at once these black clouds ripped apart, scattered piece by piece; it was no longer raining. The shreds of the clouds were hurrying away from each other, leaving expanding blue areas between them, but a dark blue that was peculiar to the onset of night. Then, excited into motion, they were flying one after another with taut wings, like strange flocks of large birds. Nihal was watching them abstractedly. For a while the sky seemed clear, then suddenly another layer of shadow fell upon its darkness, and as the minutes passed, these layers of shadow grew darker, and denser. It was now night.

‘He won’t come,’ Nihal repeated to herself, with a deep sigh of relief. 

No, he would not come. Her dark room looked depressing to her. She wanted to escape the solitude of this room. They were still laughing outside. That laughter that had angered her a moment earlier, now, on the contrary, tempted her. She would laugh, too. She wanted to stand; but there was a great weariness upon her that loosened her limbs, made her unwilling to make the smallest motion. This rain, this first warm, then cool, damp air, the darkness that seemed to be piling into the garden, the scent that rose from the wet earth below, all this, wanted to lull her into a profound, numb sleep. Her eyes were closing, the voices that came in snatches from a distance were being blanketed, bit by bit, in slumber. She was not even thinking…

From within her, a voice was answering those who invited her from outside. ‘I’m coming,’ it was saying.

Then, her eyes closed in this drowsiness, she was saying out loud, ‘he will not come,’ and waking to her own voice, she was looking around her dark room, and unable to shake off this lethargy, an undeniable force was again shutting her eyes.

Was she sleeping? After those fits that shattered her nerves, there would be spells of numbness that resembled sleep, that made her pale and thin, and drew blue shadows under her eyes. How long had she been like this?

She felt as though she were rising from her chair, walking across her room, lighting her candle and tidying her hair in the mirror, and then opening the door and going out. She was somewhere bright now, there was a crowd around, all laughing. And she was laughing too. Then suddenly, in the space of a second, she was sensing that she once again slumbered in her chair, in her dark room, beside the window which now made her feel cold. Then, feeling a need to have someone beside her, she wanted to say, ‘papa!’

But it seemed as though her throat were being squeezed, as though her mouth were being clamped.

Suddenly, ‘he’s come,’ she said. And her eyes, full of fear, opened in the darkness. He’s come!..

This sound seemed to have been uttered by someone else in the room. It was as if someone, in the darkness, had screamed in her face with a cold breath.

‘He’s come!’

She sprang from her chair.

‘Yes, he’s come,’ she said to herself. ‘Perhaps he’s there right now, with her.’

She was sure of this: Behlül had come. In the dark, feeling with her hands like a sleepwalker, she moved towards the door.

‘I’m sure Nihal knows everything,’ Bihter said to her mother, taking advantage of a moment’s solitude.

Mother and daughter had given each other a long, calm, querying look. Then Bihter had added, ‘Behlül will not come.’

Firdevs Hanım, sure of the accuracy of her judgements on such subjects, said only, in a grave tone, ‘he will come.’

This short conversation was enough for an agony of anticipation to begin within Bihter. She was finding extraordinary excuses to wander about downstairs, in order to know of Behlül’s arrival as soon as possible. When her brother-in-law and Peyker arrived, she had forgotten herself for a while, and even chased Feridun around the chairs.

But night was falling, and Nesrin was lighting the large chandelier in the hall with her lamplighter. So Behlül was not going to come, so this was the last night of her married life. After her brother-in-law and Peyker had gone, as she and her husband were retiring to their rooms, she would stay in her own room, and confess everything, all of it. As she was thinking this, she suddenly glanced over at her husband, who was smiling as he listened to one of Nihat Bey’s amusing anecdotes. She could not stand his tolerant happiness.

‘Poor man,’ she was thinking, ‘how far he is from knowing what awaits him tonight.’

She wanted to leave now. She needed to be alone for a while. She wanted to invent some excuse to go to Nihal, to see her, to figure her out. What was she doing, alone in her room? Bihter could not find the strength to do so. She went downstairs. She was inventing jobs for herself. Entering the dining room, she inspected the table, upbraided Şayeste for a plate that had not been wiped properly. Then she remembered Beşir. She passed through to his room. She inquired after his health. He had risen, and was sitting up, finding himself much better. Bihter wanted to ask Beşir about the Island.

‘You must have caught a chill on the Island,’ she said.

Beşir, looking at her with his frosty, white eyes, made no reply. There was such an animosity in this look of Beşir’s, that Bihter did not wish to continue.

She could not stay longer in this room with its scent of cedar, she was feeling stifled. She was besieged by a growing agitation but she would have to remain thus indifferent until that moment of disclosure. What torture was this! But once she had confessed, then she would be free. 

Leaving Beşir’s room, she walked through the corridor and into the hall. She was moving towards Adnan Bey’s study when she saw that the door to Behlül’s room was open.

Had he come?

She paused in but a moment’s hesitation. Within the space of this moment, she thought that she saw a shadow moving in the darkness of the room. She turned around suddenly. She would not go to her husband’s study, after all. She was now afraid to be alone with Behlül. She was heading for the stairs to go up. She felt that she was being followed; she was just at the bottom of the stairs, one more step, and Behlül could not follow her. From upstairs came the sound of her husband’s voice, of Feridun’s laughter, but she could not take this step.

Behlül was there, right beside her. She turned her head.

‘Why are you running away from me?’ Behlül asked. ‘Just one moment, for both our sakes…’

Bihter was looking at him without replying, unable to move.

‘Nihal knows it all,’ he added, ‘the letter is in her hands.’

Bihter smiled viciously. Still she did not reply.

Behlül lost his patience. ‘But you’re laughing. This could ruin us both. You cannot allow it.’ He was drawing menacingly near Bihter. ‘Particularly as there is an innocent girl, a child between us. This is enough to kill her. Do you understand?’

Bihter was still smiling that vicious smile. Suddenly, from close by, they heard the sound of an uncontrollable cough, Beşir’s cough…

Behlül looked into Bihter’s eyes. ‘Beşir,’ he said, ‘is Beşir here?’

And suddenly, he understood. He grew pale. So Nihal had come down? So she had understood everything? He was gazing at Bihter with a great languidness, then, in a commanding tone, he said, ‘you will come, tonight.’

Bihter was turning towards the stairs without answering, but at that moment it seemed as though a shadow, slow, and silent, slipped and fell down the steps, landing right before them.

Bihter could not hold back a cry of horror. ‘Nihal!’

Behlül ran. Nihal was lying there at his feet, pale as death, with her taut muscles, her locked jaw, and her arms outstretched. Behlül knelt down, wanted to lift Nihal’s head. This head would not bend, and Nihal’s lips were drawn, the roots of her hair wet with perspiration.

‘We’ve killed her, we’ve murdered her,’ Behlül was saying, as if deranged. Then, looking at Bihter, he was adding, ‘do you understand? The two of us…’ In a fit of panic, he called out, ‘help! Nihal, Nihal has fainted…’

They were all running to help. Before anyone else, Adnan Bey had sprung confusedly down the stairs. Then, seeing Nihal there, with her head against Behlül’s arm, lying on the steps, he understood. His whole body was shaking. He bent down, took Nihal in his arms. Leaning over her, he spoke in a choked voice, as if entreating her closed eyes.

‘Nihal! Nihal! Won’t you look at me? Nihal!’

Now everyone was there. ‘What happened? How did it happen?’ Peyker was asking Bihter. Bihter had leaned against the edge of the stairs, unmoving, and was looking with unseeing eyes that were unaware of all that was taking place around her.

Adnan Bey had lifted Nihal with the lightness of a child, and was carrying her up the stairs. As she ascended thus, in her father’s arms, Nihal drew in a deep breath, and opening her eyes, gave her father a long look. Then, having said all she wanted to say with this look, her eyes closed once again.

As they passed the hall, Firdevs Hanım, without rising, asked in a hurried tone, ‘what has happened, if you please? Did Nihal take a tumble?’

Behlül was following. 

Nihat Bey, offering to help, was saying, ‘if it’s necessary to find a doctor…’

At the door of Nihal’s room, Adnan Bey made a supplicating gesture to those behind him. He did not want to allow anyone to come in. He would tend to her himself.

He remembered similar fits that Nihal had suffered; twice until the age of five, once violently, such fainting spells had come upon her. Afterwards, at long intervals, she was never far from similar nervous states. It looked somewhat intense in this instance, but with a little cologne…

As Adnan Bey undressed Nihal in her bed, he was providing this explanation to Behlül and  Peyker, who had ignored his instructions. Nihal opened her eyes once again, and looked at those around her.

‘It would be best if we were left alone,’ Adnan Bey requested of them again.

Peyker left. Behlül wanted to stay. Adnan Bey insisted.

‘No, no, I don’t want anyone,’ he was saying. ‘You will see, in half an hour, Nihal will be out of bed.’

Then he dismissed Şayeste, too. ‘Nesrin can stay,’ he added.

A suspicion had suddenly awoken in Adnan Bey’s heart. While he had considered Nihal’s sudden return from the Island that day as a childishness quite natural to her, when he saw her slumped at the feet of Bihter and Behlül, he thought to himself, ‘there is something in all this.’

This suspicion was a vague feeling that had taken shape without consideration of the nature of the thing. Then, in all the chaos, with what unknown feeling, his eyes had sought out Bihter. Why was Bihter not there? Why was she not with everyone else, and in even greater anxiety than any of them?

He was asking himself these questions as he rubbed Nihal’s wrists. Then he was finding those wrists so weak in his hands, her face under the yellow hair that clung wetly to her temples so pale and drawn, that his heart was writhing with the pain of having perhaps sacrificed this child to his own happiness, to his selfishness.

He had not been able to say anything for a while, after he was left alone with Nesrin. His aim in detaining her had been to ask her for an explanation as to how it had come about that they had left the Island.

‘Would you close the door,’ he said, after a space. Then, when the door was closed, he lost his nerve.

Nihal now looked, rather than unconscious, to be in a deep, comfortable slumber, her arms had loosened, her breast was rising and falling with long, even breaths. Something was bringing tears to his eyes as he sat beside this child. All of a sudden, he was examining all of the injustices one by one, with a merciless criticality. He was admitting that this marriage had been a mistake, an awful, possibly irreparable mistake. Yes, how could it be repaired? One day, would not this itty bitty Nihal, the victim of this error, this delicate flower that could be extinguished with a single breath, would she not fall never to raise her head again?

As if wishing forgiveness for this error, he leaned over, and reached his lips out to Nihal’s chin, that chin that with its sharpness somewhat resembled the chin of a goat.

The door of the room creaked. Who was it who had entered? Perhaps it was Bihter. He could not dare to raise his head and look at her. He was stalling, breathing in Nihal’s scent that was like the perfume of a flower that had been warmed by the sun. The door opened again, closed, and he felt that someone else was in the room. Then Adnan Bey lifted his head and saw Beşir at the foot of the bed.

Beşir was standing there, as if raised from the dead, his parched lips trembling, with a wild flame in his eyes with their frosty whites. He was looking at Nihal with an agony that tightened his features. Then his trembling eyes focused on Adnan Bey, his lips moved as if he wanted to say something, then suddenly he turned, went to the door, bolted it, and turning back, looked with eyes that requested an invitation to speak.

‘What’s the matter, Beşir?’ Adnan Bey asked.

‘They’re killing the little hanım,’ Beşir said in a dry voice. ‘I will tell you everything.’ Then, leaning against the bedframe, his eyes avoiding Adnan Bey’s, he began. He knew it all. How many nights, in the cold and rain, he had hidden in dark corners, in the hall’s şehnişin, and waited for them for hours, to follow them with an untiring curiosity.

He had not found the strength to speak this secret that gnawed at him. As Beşir explained, miserably, all that he had seen, as he poured forth all that he knew, he kept saying, ‘why didn’t I tell you?’ Then, unable to answer his own question, he was looking at Adnan Bey with the thought that, ‘if you had known, perhaps it would not have turned out like this.’

Adnan Bey was listening, pale, still, not taking his eyes off Beşir, with a ringing in his ears that drowned all he heard in a calamitous uproar.

Beşir was telling him about their return from the Island today. ‘Bülent Bey came, Behlül Bey went down to Istanbul,’ he was saying. Then, admitting to a gap in his knowledge at this point, he was jumping ahead to the final event.

He had been prepared for a great occurrence today; he had waited for this event in his room, half-dressed, sitting on the edge of his bed, as if for something that had been promised. When Beşir was done, all his strength suddenly left him, and he fell by the side of Nihal’s bed, and covering his face with both hands, began to weep and weep.

Adnan Bey was sitting, crushed, as if a whole world had been shattered over his head, his eyes still fixed on Beşir. Then, with a sudden surge of anger, he rose with a need to break something, to kill something.

After this unexpected event, Bihter had remained motionless, as if frozen, without following her husband who carried Nihal up in his arms. Looking around with vacant eyes, she was waiting for some other incident that would draw her away from there.

Here she was, facing a very different consequence than what had been imagined. That paper, those two lines that would announce everything, was in Nihal’s hands. Descending the stairs quietly, she had overheard them there, and learned all. Doubtless she was now telling her father; she was hanging on his neck, and sobbing, as she said, ‘papa! The man you wanted to make me a husband has been Bihter’s lover.’

Then Adnan Bey would go mad, take them all by the arm, and throw them out.

The woman who had found the strength to go to her husband and confess the truth, now stood quivering before the way it had come to light. So she was to be thrown out of this house a sullied harlot, and in two days it would spread through the whole of society, and ripple through the air, scattering smiles around it. Then Firdevs Hanım’s life would begin for Bihter. Eyes would open around her that felt the licence to look smiles upon her, letters would be thrown into the şehnişin of the yalı, and…

She was shivering with a chill that ran icily through her body.

… And she would have to accept all this. She could not deny it. What right did she have? Was she not Firdevs Hanım’s daughter? Had she not been thrown out of her husband’s house? This sordid life was a chain around her neck that she would have to drag along until it throttled her.

She reached out her arms, wanting to throw off this chain that threatened to choke her. She would endure anything, anything, even death, but not this… Someone was descending the stairs. She trembled. Perhaps it was her husband. No, it was Behlül, and he stopped in front of her. He was looking at her with wretched, mad eyes.

With a choked voice, he said, ‘I’m going.’

He had felt the danger only after he had been ejected from Nihal’s room. Only then grasping that this incident would reveal all, had he suddenly made his decision: to escape!…

‘Coward,’ said Bihter, through clenched teeth.

Behlül drew near her, looked directly at her. ‘Why?’ he was saying, ‘you, only you have caused this. When it was possible for everything to end so nicely…’

He could not finish. Bihter had taken a step back, and something fell on Behlül’s face. This was so sudden that he did not comprehend for a moment, then he grew wild with the desire to fall upon this woman, to break her arms. But quickly finding his cool, he turned, and without finding it necessary to stop by his rooms, with one last crazed look at Bihter, the sprang towards the stairs.

So he was going, too. What was Bihter to do? She saw Beşir come out of the corridor, and slowly ascend the steps. She fancied that as he passed, he was looking at her with a deep and vicious pleasure. She would find this expression in every face from now on. Even in her mother, even in her sister, even in her brother-in-law – that man with eyes that always forced her to lower her own; what foul significance would this look take on from him.

To live like this, to live under such gazes? And what had she to live for? Then she thought of death. Yes, she would die. A thought occurred to her. In her husband’s room, beside the bed, in the drawer of a little cabinet, with a hilt covered in mother-of-pearl, was something that resembled a dainty toy, which, if she took and placed its little muzzle at this aching place on her heart and if she pressed it, with a second’s fortitude, and with only a little pressure, then everything, everything would be over. And then the mercy that was denied a poor, living mortal, would not be denied the dead…

This thought returned to her all her strength. She strode, ascended the stair. In the hall, in one corner, she saw Peyker and her brother-in-law around Firdevs Hanım. The three heads were huddled together. They raised their heads when they saw her. She passed by without stopping.

At the entrance to the corridor, Emma was sitting on the carpet and making up a game for Feridun with a box of matches. The child raised it arms, and said, ‘aunt!’

To one side, Şayeste and Nesrin were leaning against the wall, in conference. They did not change their attitude as she passed. She felt as if their laughing eyes were following after her. She seemed to hesitate a moment before Nihal’s door: what if she were to enter? Perhaps nothing had yet come to light…

At that moment she felt disgusted by this hypocrisy. Had there not been enough hypocrisy? She took two more steps and entered her husband’s room. She ran to the little cabinet, opened the drawer. There it was. As she took it up, she thought that perhaps her husband would come, seeking her. This was quite possible. Well, since there was a culprit who was condemned to die, — she was laughing wildly as she thought this — then she herself would execute this duty.

Going to her room, she bolted the connecting door. This door that had closed so many times against her husband’s right, was finally also closing upon his right to vengeance.

When she found herself in her room, alone in the dark with that thing that resembled a delicate toy, she trembled. Her strength gave way suddenly. Really, was she going to do this? So young, so beautiful, without yet having had a chance to live…

She wanted to light her candle first. She would surely not die in the dark. To die without seeing herself one last time… So everything would end after she was dead, she too, her self would end, never to live again? She would be a shadow in a darkness, an endless darkness?

Without putting the gun down, she was searching for the matchbox with her left hand. Suddenly she heard the door, the connecting door that had been bolted a moment before, creak, heard that someone tried to open it, and all at once, with a frailty that made her knees weak and unable to stand where she was, she clutched the mother-of-pearl hilt. Her eyes in the dark, fixed on the door that creaked and shook with increasing violence.

This door was a savage, rapacious maw that screeched in the night with a wild thirst for vengeance, and seemed to leer at her with a wild smile that showed its teeth. She was shaking, her eyes on the door, her mind frozen. Was this some awful nightmare?

In a second, the whole truth was appearing to her in a series of revolving scenes. And then she was clutching the nacre hilt even tighter between her fingers, such that she felt her palm sting. Why was she squeezing it? Why did she not take this abominable thing, and fling it before the maw with its squeaking teeth? Had she really taken it with the intention of killing herself?

Now it was a monster that had stuck to her hand, that clung there with its teeth; she could not shake it off. Now she was this monster’s prisoner. As if with a will of its own, this delicate, little toy’s black muzzle was bending, bending, wishing to turn upon her. And now the door was quaking. 

In a muffled voice, as if from among clouds that hid awesome tempests, her husband was saying, ‘open, I tell you, why won’t you open the door.’

So she could find the strength neither to open this door, nor to answer this voice, nor to stand before this man? So she was trembling thus sullied, wretched, and belittled; not even able to escape, not even able to lie, not even able to say, ‘they’re fooling you’?

And in her hand, the black muzzle of that delicate, little toy was ever turning, turning, wanting to find her in the dark.

Now that voice, behind the quaking door, was saying, as if in a pleading tone, ‘Bihter, please, open the door. Don’t you understand? I implore you…’

She had taken a step in the darkness; she was gritting her teeth, and it was as if her face was being torn by a wild, angry smile that laughed at the billowing night. Suddenly something, a low chair, touched her trembling knees; a wall rose up before her that kept her from walking. Oh! She would not be able to open it, she would not be able to go out to face that man, and in her hand that delicate, little toy’s black muzzle kept turning, bending, seeking her in the dark, and saying in a persuasive voice, ‘yes, young, beautiful, delicious woman, this is the only thing for you.’

She was going to shake off this thing that wished to betray her; this young, beautiful, delicious woman would live. Then suddenly, before the door that was cracking in readiness to break, a listlessness came over her wrist. It was as if a force bent it, overpowered it, and finally that black mouth bent, and turned, and with the treachery of a snake, in the dark, it found that place that ached with the wound of love.

Nihal had only lain ill in her room for three days, but her convalescence had been ongoing for three months.

‘Don’t stay here,’ the doctors had told her father. ‘Take your daughter on long drives in the Island sun, among the pine forests,’ and for three months, father and daughter could be chanced, morning and evening, in the old aunt’s one-horse carriage on the Island.

It seemed as if one of them had aged, and the other grown more childish. They had a habit of talking little, but of sitting close together in the carriage, of walking with one leaning on the arm of the other, that gave them the appearance of two patients who found their cure in each other.

Not a single, solitary word had been exchanged on either Behlül or Bihter between father and daughter. They were avoiding that unfortunate memory, and seemed to have forgotten the past few years. At rare moments, in one or two words, they dreamt of the future.

Adnan Bey had written the old governess a long letter, and received a short reply: Mlle de Courton would come at the beginning of winter; Şakire Hanım and her husband, having married off Cemile, would leave the two lovebirds in peace in their nest, and spend the last years of their life at the yalı; Bülent would not board at the school. There would once again be long chases around the garden, there would be deserts prepared among the shiny pots of the little kitchen, following recipes discovered in books. Life would once again be an endless holiday for them, now that the father had returned to his daughter, and the daughter to her father.

Only Beşir was missing. ‘Oh, poor Beşir!’ Nihal would say, and then, not wishing to dwell of this awful memory, she would continue, ‘isn’t that so, papa? How we will laugh, you remember, the way we used to laugh…’

And trying to find one of the happy laughs of her happy days, she would throw her arms around her father’s neck with a dry, broken laugh that caught with a sob of agony, would pucker her lips, and kiss him right there, on the bare, beardless spot under his chin.

It was an evening at the end of August, father and daughter had again gone on one of their drives; they were now returning, when suddenly Nihal took the reins from her father’s hand.

‘Please, a little longer, papa,’ she said, then pointing out to her father, the moon that shone like a frosty, white page, she added, ‘see, they are lighting a lamp for us.’

There was a smile on her lips as she spoke, that lingered there with a pitiful disappointment. Her head a little bowed, her eyes absent, she was lost in thought, following the vision of a memory that flitted across the darkening road. Here were those happy betrothed, flying with the light motion of their one-horse carriage, happy, their hearts full of love, with the lamp that was lit above their heads just for lovers, running, running.

Nihal stroked the belly of the horse with her whip, wanting to catch up to this vague vision of happiness, to seize this thing that was escaping her. Then shaking herself suddenly, as if losing hope, she stopped.

‘Shall we alight here a little while?’ she asked.

What things she had heard here, with him, during a half hour’s rapture!.. Again the sea, with a distant murmur, was singing secret songs, again the moon, with its white light, was spreading a languid smile of relief… Nihal, with a painful knot in her heart, in order not to think, not to see, was leaning on her father’s arm, and placing her head on his shoulder.

‘This is how it will be, from now on,’ she was thinking to herself.

Yes, she vowed that from now on she would always be happy with this. Closing her eyes, she would inter that memory of happiness like the sacred memory of the dead, in the depths of her heart, and leaning on her father’s arm, resting her head on his shoulder, she would try to be content.

As she considered these things, she was drawing her father little by little. She wanted to return to that pine wood, that green nest, that vision that had been carved in emerald. She stopped at the edge of the wood; there seemed to be a hand that held her back.

She stood, watching; perhaps they were in there, the happy betrothed: Behlül and Nihal… Her lips trembled with a pained smile, she forced herself not to think of this, afraid that this thought that entered her mind would make her father unhappy. Did she not owe her life to her father from now on? Only to him?

Now this father and daughter depended on each other to live. As she repeated this, a fear was passing through her mind with the speed of lightning: what if one of them was left alone? Then, to escape this fear, she was tugging at her father.

‘Let us leave,’ she was saying, and shutting her eyes, her heart was answering that fear with a prayer: ‘together, always together, in life, and in death…’

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

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