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SONS. 16. A. DRAWN BET.'. 17. PROFESSED STORY-TELLERS. 18. THE SABBATH
LAND. 49. THE 'SATURDAY EMPORIUM.' 50. NOTICE TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Beside the innumerable printed tales to be found in Constantinople, particularly in the Book Bazaar, some of which are really curious imaginings, and would
be excellent illustrations of the customs and habits of the people of the East, there are many Meddahs, or Tale-tellers, who in certain places, and on stated days, amuse the public with their impromptu narratives. Near my residence in Pera, there is a coffee. house belonging to one of the Sultan's family, which is much frequented on Friday afternoons during the summer, on account of its Meddah. More than once, when passing by its entrance, I have been arrested by the loud voice of laughter proceeding from within; and sometimes I have stopped for a few moments to hear the tale. The Kahoch, or coffee-house, stands within a garden, which is surrounded by a wall of stone, and from the height of the location it commands one of the most beautiful views of the Bosphorus. The garden is full of fruit-trees, shrubs, and flowers, among which, in an old-fashioned, European highbacked arm-chair, sits the Meddah.
He is about forty or forty-five years of age ; stout, wears the ordinary dress of the modern civilized Turkish gentry, that is, European pantaloons, frock-coat with a standing collar, vest ordinaire, and a red cloth-cap, called here fezz, from which is appended a tassel of blue silk. Over his neck is thrown a Turkish handkerchief, of which during his narrative he makes frequent use, both to wipe the perspiration from his face and to occupy his hands when they are not otherwise engaged. In his right hand at times he seizes a cane, or baton, of about four feet high, which he uses with considerable effect during his imitations of second and third parties in his tale, and frequently he rises from his seat to flourish it or make two or more steps in pursuit of his imaginary fugitive.
His own back is turned against the splendid view which is seen from the garden, to the audience around him. The Kahoch is full, and beVOL. XXIV.
fore him and at either hand sit on low Turkish-stools the attentive lis. teners, composed mostly of the lower classes, or of the middle, with but few of the higher. Coffee and pipes are handed round by the servants of the Kahoch, the latter empty, for here every one carries about him in a cloth pouch his own tobacco; and water pipes, (Narguilay,) gurgle in concert with the humbler cherry-stick.
Yesterday I stepped in the garden and took my seat among the mingled concourse of Turks, Armenians, Greeks and Franks: of Jews I saw none, and but few of the latter; and accepting an offered cup of coffee in place of a pipe, for I never have been able to smoke, I listened to the Meddah, who related as follows. He had already been speaking some minutes before my arrival, and I can only give as much of his tale as I heard. The two most common characters which appear in these impromptu tales, are a Cavoss, or police officer, and a Kaikdji, or boatman; the former as the beau-ideal of a heartless licentiary, fond of wine and women, and the latter as a good-hearted, hard-working daredevil, with some small wit, and loquacious withal.
“Yes,' said the old woman, he has seen you; the son of the Prince of Egina has seen you, is pleased with you, loves you, and wants you for his wife.' 'Oh! la! la!' replied the simple-hearted girl ; 'the son of the Prince of Egina ? • Truly,'
continued the old creature; ' and he wishes an interview with you.' • But how can we meet, and when ?' asked the delighted girl. “Why, in the large house there, on the sea. shore, below Tchatlady Capoosy, this evening at dusk.' 'I am afraid,' replied the girl ; •but I will try and go there with you.' "Well, be ready, and we will go together. The prince's son will come for you in a caique covered with gold and jewels, and convey you to a kiosk of brilliants.'
(The son of the Prince of Egina was no other than the Cavoss Bashi of the quarter; a hard-drinking, tyrannical fellow, who having met the Turkish girl in the street was pleased with her looks, and had engaged this old entremetteure to arrange a meeting between himself and the object of his temporary affections.)
*As evening approached, the young girl left her parent's house unobserved, met with the old woman at the spot agreed upon, and with her proceeded to the dwelling of the Prince of Egina. This is the house,' said the old wretch ; ‘go in the room which commands a view of the sea; sit down on the sofa at the window, and you will soon see the Prince of Egina coming for you in his gilded caique covered with jew. els.' The girl having done as she was bid, the old woman went out to inform the son of the prince, (alias the Cavoss Bashi,) of her success, and never returned.
• Presently the girl heard the door below open, and beheld one enter the room differing widely from the person she expected, at least in external appearance. He was dressed in the ordinary coarse yellow frock-coat and pantaloons of a Cavoss, of rather common appearance,