The Reluctant Conjurer: A Wiles-of-Women Tale from Ottoman Constantinople

The Reluctant Conjurer

A Wiles-of-Women Tale from Ottoman Constantinople

by Anonymous (Constantinople, Ottoman Empire – Ottoman Turkish Original)
by David Selim Sayers (Paris, France – English translation, modern Turkish transliteration)

Translator’s Introduction

Stories about the “wiles of women” are as old as storytelling itself. We can find them as far back as ancient Egypt; and even today, wherever we see the theme of a woman using schemes and intrigue to get her way, we have the wiles of women at work. The story below comes from Ottoman Constantinople; I found it in an Ottoman Turkish manuscript at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.1 Marginal notes reveal that the manuscript was read as early as 1763, though versions of the story itself must have been in circulation in oral or written form for a long time before that. Since the story had no name, I’ve given it one myself.

For specialists, I’m also including my transliteration of the story from the Ottoman into the modern Turkish alphabet; you can find it below the translation.2 The transliteration (as well as a draft version of the translation) was first published in my 2019 book, The Wiles of Women as a Literary Genre: A Study of Ottoman and Azeri Texts (Harrassowitz), which also contains many other stories as well as my analysis and cultural interpretation of the wiles-of-women genre.


The tellers of tales, bearers of news, and chroniclers of the ages recount that in times past, in the city of Nishapur,3 there was a woman who had two lovers. “When my husband dies,” she would tell both, “I’ll marry you instead.” Finally, after some time, one of her lovers said to himself, “Who knows when this husband of hers will die? I might as well leave this town for a while, see what else is out there, and return.” And saying this, he left.

Now, the lover who’d stayed in the city was a young weaver. And before long, while the other lover was still abroad, the woman’s husband died, and she got married to that weaver. The weaver was so jealously protective of this woman that whenever he went somewhere, he would lock the door on her, and whenever she went to the bathhouse, he would go with her and wait at the door until she had bathed and come out, and then he would once again set out before her and take her home.

Eventually, the lover who had gone abroad returned. But even though he tried his best to meet up with the woman or at least catch a glimpse of her, he couldn’t find a way. One day, while he was walking around outside the woman’s house—there also happened to be an old crone’s house nearby—the crone, who had watched the young man roam the streets for days, said, “Son, I’ve been watching you for days. I wonder if a woman you love has her dwelling hereabouts! Come, don’t conceal it from me.” “Dear mother,” the fellow replied, “I used to love the wife of such-and-such person. Then, some time ago, I left the city. And now that I am back, I haven’t been able to catch a glimpse of her.”

Hearing this, the crone said, “Son, that woman’s husband died. She’s married to a weaver now and lives with him.” “Dear mother,” the fellow replied, “what shall become of me now? If only I could meet up with her once! My heartache is killing me!” As he spoke like this and wept, the crone’s heart started burning with compassion. And so, she turned to him and said, “Son, don’t you weep, I will devise a convenient way for you to meet up with her. You just come back here after a while.” And saying this, she saw him off.

Pounding the ground with her cane, the crone went to the weaver’s house and knocked on the door. The weaver opened up, and the crone, offering her greetings, swept in right away. The weaver returned her greetings and went back behind his loom. The crone, in turn, sat down before him and asked, “Son, is it you who lives here now?” “It is we,” the weaver replied. “A friend of mine used to live here before,” the crone went on. “I would visit from time to time; we were close companions.” “Dear mother,” the weaver said, “since that is so, you should come back and be a companion to us as well.” The crone replied, “So, is your wife at home? From her very childhood, I raised her with my own hands.” And saying this, she forced her way farther in, leaving the weaver outside.4

As soon as the crone was with the woman, she said to her, “Child, it seems there is a young man who loves you very much. He told me he’d left town for a while but that he has returned, and that his love for you has driven him mad with pain. The tears flow like rivers from his eyes. You are young; it’s not auspicious to make him cry like this. Wouldn’t it be possible for him to see you once?” When the crone had spoken, the woman replied, “Dear mother, it is impossible for me to meet with him. My husband, the weaver, never leaves my side, and even when he does, he locks me in until he’s back. What can I do? There is no contrivance by which I could meet with him.”

At once, the crone replied, “If you have a heart to meet with him, I can easily set up a date!” Upon hearing this, the weaver’s wife said, “Mercy, dear mother! No one can find a way but you!” The old hag turned to her. “Here’s how you’ll meet with that man,” she said. “An hour after I leave, start crying out, ‘O mercy, my waist! O mercy, my sides! O mercy, my chest!’ And when your husband comes and asks, ‘O wife, what’s wrong with you?’ tell him right away, ‘Mercy, it’s flared up again! This sickness used to befall me from time to time. Whenever I got like this—that lady from before is my foster mother, and she’s a good woman with sleek, plump hands—she would rush over, concoct a cure for me, and I’d recover. If you don’t go and bring me that lady, I can’t get well!’” Then, the crone went out to the weaver, said, “Son, I entrust you to God,” and left.

No sooner had three or four hours passed than the weaver’s wife started wailing, “O mercy!” and broke out in screams, her mouth foaming, her eyes quailing. The weaver took leave of his senses, his hands and feet going cold. After a while, the woman opened her eyes, and the hapless weaver exclaimed, “O, what will become of me? My lofty cypress, my lady, is there no cure for this?” “My lord,” the woman replied, “this sickness befalls me every year or two. If that crone from before were to come back, I could be saved,” and broke out in shrieks again.

As soon as the hapless weaver saw his wife in this state, he locked up, rushed to the crone’s abode, and knocked on her door. At once, the crone approached from inside, saying, “Who might be knocking on my door?” She opened up and saw the weaver standing outside. “Welcome, my son,” she said, “what news do you bring?” “Dear mother,” the wretched weaver replied, “have mercy and come right away! My wife’s in a terrible state; if you don’t come to the rescue, she’ll die!” But the crone replied, “So help me God, son, I can’t come or give you a hand.”

By that time, the old hag had already put the woman’s lover in a trunk and locked it on him; he was in her house and ready to go. “Dear mother,” the weaver said, “grant me this favor and grace! For if you do not come this instant, that woman will surely die!” And saying this, he started to weep. “O son, how can I come?” the hag replied. “I have a foster son who left today, entrusting me with a trunk. I don’t know what’s inside, and my house is but a ruin; if I were to leave the trunk and go, a rascal could break in and make off with it. And if that were to happen, what would I say to the young man?” When the crone said these words, the weaver rushed to the trunk, lifted it up, and saw that he could carry it. “O mercy, dear mother,” he said, “let me take this trunk to the house along with you! Just show me the kindness and grace of coming with me. For my wife is in dire straits and her demise is surely near!”

“Come, then,” that execrable crone replied, “take the trunk and let’s go. You and I have only just become mother and son, and I raised your wife with my own hands when she was but a child. Whenever she’s overcome by this sickness, I go to her side and cure her. But from what you’ve told me, this time seems especially bad. When it flares up,” she went on, “she can’t close her eyes and rest at night. She can neither sit down nor stand up.” “Dear mother,” the weaver cried, “it is exactly as you describe!” He tied the trunk to his waist with a rope and hoisted it onto his back. When they reached the house, the crone in front and the hapless weaver in tow, he lowered the trunk to the ground, unlocked his door, and took the trunk inside, putting it down right next to his wife.

As soon as the wife had heard her husband approach with the crone—at that point, she had already made a bed by the hearth—she had undressed, got into the bed, and prepared herself; now, she awaited her lover. She started wailing right away, “Dear me, my chest! Mercy, my back! Help, my sides are killing me! Quick, bring that hag to me!” The crone, in turn, quickly rolled up her sleeves and put her hands on the woman’s chest. “O daughter of mine,” she said, “has that sickness flared up again? But this time, it’s much worse than ever before! My son, if I’m to cure this, you must bring me water from a graveyard’s well and some soil from an ancient Jewish grave.”

The hapless weaver quickly tucked in his robe, locked up the house, and left. His wife sprang up at once, full of life, with no trace of pain. She firmly closed the door and let her lover out of the trunk. They embraced and started enjoying each other until the weaver returned. As soon as he arrived at the door, she put the fellow back in the trunk, closed its lid, and went back to crying and moaning. The weaver brought the water and soil, putting it down before them. The old hag, in turn, got up, mixed the water with the soil, rubbed it onto the woman’s belly and waist—it was all a fraud—and laid some blankets on her. “Now go back to work,” she told the weaver, “so this woman may rest and recover.” And so, the weaver returned to his loom and started weaving again, busying himself for a while.

From that day onward, whenever the woman wanted to enjoy herself with her lover, they would send the wretched weaver away, saying, “Go and get such-and-such thing from such-and-such place.” The weaver would lock up and go, the woman would let her lover out, and they would have fun until the weaver was at the door again. And when the weaver returned, they would quickly put the fellow back in the trunk.

Long story short, a week went by like this, and at the end of the week, the woman was back in good health, and they’d had their fill of pleasure. With the woman feeling much better, the crone said, “Son, I haven’t been back to my house for a week. The owner of the trunk may have returned and could be looking for me. Show me the kindness and grace of taking me home with the trunk.” “As you command, dear mother,” the weaver said, swung the trunk on his back, and locked the door. And so, they went on their way, the crone in front and the weaver in tow, with the trunk tied to his back.

Evening was drawing near. The weaver, carrying the heavy trunk, pressed on. After a while he grew exhausted, slid the trunk off his back onto an elevated spot, and took a rest. Ahead of him, the crone, unaware the weaver was resting, kept up her pace. But the weaver paid her no mind. “I know the house anyway,” he said, “let her go ahead.” After resting a little longer, he took the trunk on his back again and went on. But evening had come, and so he lost his way, setting out on a different path. By the time he looked around, saw that he was lost, and made to return, evening had already passed, and it was so dark one couldn’t see the hand before one’s eyes. No longer even able to find the way back to his home, the weaver was close to despair when suddenly, his path led him to the neighborhood where the captain of the guard had his quarters, and he came across a division of guards.

When the guards saw the fellow shuffling along, buckled over from the weight of the trunk on his back, they immediately said to each other, “Surely, this fellow and his accomplices must have broken and entered into a house, and this trunk must be filled with fabrics. And surely, they must have a lair somewhere. It is clear as day that his accomplices gave him this trunk to carry to their lair, and that they are all making their way to that place by different routes right now. Where might this fellow’s accomplices be, and their lair? And what kind of person’s house might they have broken into? Surely, it must be some grand palace.” At once, the guards blocked the weaver’s path, saying, “Stop, wretch, where are you taking that trunk on your back at this time of the night? What kind of person’s house did you break into, and where are your accomplices, and where is the house at which you arranged to meet? Speak up, quick!” And saying this, they grabbed the hapless weaver by the collar and detained him.

The wretched weaver’s heart jumped into his throat. Dumbstruck, he didn’t know what to say. But he quickly gathered his wits, telling himself, “If I am to save my neck, I must give these people some kind of answer.” So, he turned to them and said, “I’m a conjurer, and today, I was putting on a show by the fortress walls. In this trunk are my conjurer’s tools and equipment.” When he said this, they asked, “So why were you out until now, and where are you going, alone as you are?” “After the show,” he replied, “I sent my apprentice ahead to our store and waited with some equipment for him to return and take the trunk as well. But he never came, evening fell, and finally, when I saw that no one would come or go anymore, I was forced to take the trunk onto my own back. And as I was walking along—I’m a stranger to these parts—I got lost and couldn’t find my way back home. And then, as I went on, entrusting myself to fate, I came across you.”

“Nonsense,” they said, “you are a brigand! You don’t look like an honorable fellow to us. Surely, you must have accomplices, and surely, you must have broken into a house and stolen this trunk.” One of them said, “Let’s take him to the captain right away; he’ll know how to make him talk!” And without further ado, they grabbed the weaver and took him before the captain of the guard. “Who is this fellow?” the captain roared. “We don’t know,” the guards replied. “We came across him in such-and-such place as he was walking along, this trunk on his back. We asked him what it was, and he said, ‘I’m a conjurer; I put on a show by the fortress walls today, ended up running late, and couldn’t find my way back home.’ We don’t know if it’s the truth or a lie.”

Now, as it turns out, the captain of the guard had a beloved wife whom he deeply adored. And she always said to the captain, “You may have become captain of the guard, but have you ever brought home a juggler or a conjurer for me to enjoy?” Since she would always nag him like this, when the guards had finished their tale, the captain turned to the weaver and asked, “Are you really a conjurer?” “I am indeed,” the weaver replied, “a master conjurer, so much so that this town hasn’t seen one like me in recent times!” “Well, then,” the captain said, “I’ve made a fine catch with you! Take your trunk and follow me to my house, and then perform your tricks for us as your audience. You can go home in the morning.” The captain stood up at once, and, taking the weaver along, headed straight for his house, where he knocked on the gate.

As it happened, though, the captain’s wife had a lover who would come every night and enjoy himself with her. The captain would only sleep at his own house on Fridays, spending all other nights at his office, and the woman and her lover would have pleasure and fun until dawn. And so, as per usual, they were naked, entangled in bed when, all of a sudden, there was a knock on the gate. The handmaids rushed over, opened up, and saw that it was the captain, their lord. Immediately, one of them rushed back inside and alerted the lady, saying, “Mercy, my lady, our lord is here!” When she heard the news, the woman quickly disrobed her lover, and—there was a stately urn nearby—put him inside.

The captain, as the story goes, stepped through the gate with the weaver, who carried the trunk on his back. And, as it turns out, from the gate one could see a window revealing the room with the woman inside. So, as the weaver entered with the trunk on his back, the window caught his eye and he saw the woman strip her lover and put him inside the urn. He didn’t let on, however, saying, “Let’s wait and see what the mirror of fate shall reveal.”

The captain of the guard entered the house and went up to his wife. “My lord,” the woman said, “you never come home around this time. What wind brought you here tonight?” “O beloved,” the captain replied, “don’t you always nag me, saying, ‘You may have become captain of the guard, but when have you ever brought me a conjurer or juggler?’ Well, now I got my hands on a master conjurer, and I brought him along with me so he may put on a show for you.” And the captain said to the weaver, “So put on your show, master conjurer, but make sure that you give us a good performance.” “My lord,” the weaver replied, “my apprentice isn’t with me, and my tambourine and some other tools are missing. Also, the trunk is locked, and my apprentice has the key. Let this trunk stay here with my equipment, and I’ll go home. In the morning, I’ll bring my apprentice and some other needful things, and I’ll put on a fine show for you!”

The captain was gripped with rage. He jumped up from his seat, grabbed an ax, and cried, “Surely, either you open this trunk, put on a show, and let us watch, or I will break it open with this ax and smash it to bits!” At this, the fellow in the trunk said to himself, “O mercy, what a pickle I’m in! If this fellow strikes the trunk with the ax and breaks it apart, I’ll be revealed stark naked, and my throat will be forfeit. And if the captain were to ask me, ‘Wretch, what are you doing in this trunk?’ what could I possibly say?” And, thinking this, he was filled with repentance and started to pray for forgiveness, and his heart started to go boom! boom! like a drum.

Meanwhile, the weaver said, “My lord, show mercy and grace! Do not shatter this trunk; I’m a man of modest means and can’t afford another!” But the captain of the guard insisted. “No,” he cried, “surely, either you open this trunk and put on a show or I will break it apart!” Seeing the captain would not be denied, the weaver turned around and said, “My lord, if you shatter my trunk, I will have no choice but to break yonder urn in return!” As soon as the captain’s wife heard this from the weaver, she knew that he had seen her put her lover in the urn, and that, if her husband shattered the trunk, and this fellow went on to break the urn, her lover would appear, and her secret be revealed. At once, she turned to her husband and said, “Have mercy and do not harm this hapless one by breaking his trunk! I don’t have to watch a conjurer right now. Release this wretched one so he may go back to his house, fetch his apprentice and whatever he needs, and, in the morning, put on a proper show for us!”

But no matter how she begged him, it was all in vain. Ax in hand, the captain yelled, “Surely, either you open your trunk and perform, or I will shatter it with this ax!” And turning to his wife, he cried, “Surely, he must perform! Else, you will start nagging me again! ‘You brought a conjurer all this way,’ you will say, ‘but you couldn’t even get him to put on a show!’” The woman, for her part, wouldn’t have minded a show, but since her secret would be revealed if the fellow in the urn came to light, she kept begging the captain, “I don’t want a conjurer! I repent! I will never ask you for a conjurer again!”

While they went back and forth like this, the weaver snuck up to the trunk and gave the lock a knock with his hand. As it turns out, upon closer inspection, the bottom of the lock was quite rusty and crumbled right away, and the rest of it fell apart in his hand. Seeing this, the weaver said, “Let’s have a look at what’s inside.” He lifted the lid of the trunk ever so slightly and saw a naked fellow inside, rolled up in a ball. Gingerly shutting the lid again, he said to himself, “So what they say is true; there is no faithfulness with women! And so is the saying that an overly guarded eye catches the speck! I tried so hard to seclude my wife, jealously hiding her from my very own eyes. I locked the door on her and even escorted her to the bathhouse. But in the end, I carried her lover into the house with my own hands, openly playing the pimp! And the same thing that happened to me has befallen the captain as well. Woe is me! Without even knowing, I brought this upon myself!” And he resolved to find a ruse that would deliver him from that place.

And so, the weaver turned to the captain. “My lord,” he said, “rein in your fury; it seems the boy hasn’t locked the trunk after all. See, the lock is open! Now take your seats, and I will give you such a mystery and such an exotic show as has never been put on by any conjurer before, such a show as I myself have never put on in front of anyone my entire life, and such an exotic mystery that no one has ever seen its like before.” The captain of the guard replied, “That’s exactly what I desire,” and put down his ax. He and his wife sat down, wondering what kind of exotic, mysterious thing the weaver would show to them, and even the captain’s wife recovered somewhat from her shock.

“Since I don’t have a tambourine,” the weaver went on, “bring me a tray at least so I can bang on that.” The captain gave the order and the handmaids brought a tray. Taking it, the weaver said, “Now behold as I make a man appear from this trunk, and another from yonder urn, and behold as they face each other and put on a dance for you. Let me sound my tray!” The weaver held up the tray and started to chant, “Come forth, o mysterious mystery of mysteries! Come forth, o secretive secret of secrets!”

Sounding the tray, he went up to the trunk and clapped his hands. Then, bending over, he quietly said to the fellow inside, “Listen, you fucking pimp, who put you inside this trunk? Well, if you hope to escape, here is your chance. There’s another guy in the urn; I will get him out as well. Then, when I sound the tray, you start dancing across from each other and head for the door, dancing all the way. Once you’re there, get out at once and run without looking back. Else, so help me God, the captain will smite you so hard with his mace that your skins won’t be worth half a coin.” And he finished by adding, “Come out as soon as I say.”

Then, sounding the tray in his hand, the weaver went up to the urn. Again, he clapped his hands and quietly said to the fellow inside, “Listen, you fucking pimp, I saw you get in the urn. If you want to escape, come out when I say, ‘The one in the urn, come out,’ start dancing across from the man who’ll come out the trunk, quickly head for the door, flee, and be free. There is no other way for you to escape the captain’s clutches; if you refuse, you’ll get a taste of his mace.” And he added, “Don’t fear or fret, just get out as soon as I say.”

The captain believed the conjurer was busy putting a spell on the trunk and the urn. But his wife started shrinking in her seat, and her skin turned pale. When he saw his wife like this, the captain asked, “Soul of my soul, why do you shrink like this?” “I’m afraid,” the woman replied. “What sorts of men are to come out of this trunk and this urn?” “Soul of my soul,” the captain said, “don’t be afraid. This conjurer is an illusionist. He won’t bring out real men from the trunk and the urn; he’ll just show us apparitions. So, don’t fear or fret, just behold: It looks like he’ll put on a good show.” When he said this, the woman calmed down a little; she’d been wondering what to say when the captain saw the guy in the urn, and hadn’t been able to think of anything. She smiled and settled down, saying to herself, “Alright, let’s see how things will go.”

Finally, the weaver stepped away from the urn, sounded the tray, and came to a halt in the middle of the room. He turned to the captain and said, “My lord, please order the handmaids to open the door to the house. I may have finished my incantations for the trunk and the urn, but the art I’m about to display is a mighty art, and the doors need to be open for my work to come out well. I do not wish to find myself embarrassed before you, and I need my work to neatly unfold without getting tangled up, for the show I’m about to put on has not been attempted by any conjurer before.” And so, the captain gave the order and the handmaids opened the doors.

Sounding the tray in his hand, the weaver started chanting, “Come forth now, o mystery, o secret! Come forth now, o mystery!” He opened the lid of the trunk, and out leapt a man, bare as a babe, and started contorting himself in a dance. The captain turned to his wife and said, “Truly, he is a great conjurer! I wonder if he can make one appear from the urn as well and have them dance face to face.” The woman replied, “He conjured one from the trunk, so now he must conjure one from the urn as well! If he pulls that off, he will have put on a truly stupendous show!”

The weaver, tray in hand, came back to the middle of the room, went from there to the urn, and chanted, “Come forth now, o mystery! From the urn as well, o secret! O mysterious secret, now come forth from the urn as well!” As soon as he said this, the young butcher—for that is what the captain’s wife’s lover turned out to be—emerged from the urn, bare as a babe. Both of them started dancing, face to face, in weird contortions, and the captain said to his wife, “Don’t you be scared now, soul of my soul, these are not real but mere apparitions!”

Once the young butcher was out of the urn as well, and the two had started dancing, the weaver signalled to them to head for the door. As soon as the two women’s lovers, dancing in the middle of the room, saw the weaver’s signal, they seized their chance and made for the door, jumping and bouncing as they went. All the doors being open, they leapt out at once and made themselves scarce, not stopping to catch their breath until they’d made it back to their homes. When the weaver saw they were safe, he said to himself, “It’s no true skill to use your wiles for their sake; true skill would be to save yourself! Else, you’ll be the one to taste the mace they escaped!”

Meanwhile, the captain, dumbstruck by the weaver’s show, said to himself, “I’ve seen a lot of conjurers, but never in my life have I seen the artfulness displayed by this one. That he should have brought out a man from his own trunk and another one from my urn! This skill is a mighty skill, and this art a mighty art the likes of which have never been witnessed before!” And thus, fathoming nothing of what he’d just seen, he truly considered the men apparitions and sank into deep thought.

The weaver realized the captain could make neither head nor tail of the ruse and skill he’d displayed. “My lord,” he cried, “it is no skill at all to make men appear from an urn and a trunk. Truly, that art requires no skill. True skill would be for me to go outside, turn one of them into a monkey and the other into an ape, bring them back inside, and have them dance for you. Now, that would be a true show, and I hope to astound you with that art as well!”

“Go all out, master conjurer,” the captain replied at once, “and do it right away! I’ll reward you handsomely for these tricks of yours!” And his wife chimed in, “So help me God, my lord, this conjurer is a master, truly skilled and adept at his art! He has given us an incomparable show! If he performs the trick he just talked about as well, it will be a mighty display of skill and worthy of great reward!” With these words, the woman meant to fan the captain’s ardor and help the weaver find a way to get outside and flee so that her own secret would be safe as well.

“Give it your all,” the captain cried, “what are you waiting for?” The weaver said to himself, “If I can only make it outside, then I’ll give you a show to remember.” Rolling up the legs of his trousers, he turned to the captain. “My lord,” he said, “I wonder if I should turn one of them into a monkey and the other into an ape or rather a donkey?” “Donkeys and monkeys have rhyme but no reason,” the captain replied. “Turn him into an ape!” And so, the weaver said, “Just sit back and enjoy the skill I’m about to put on display! I hope to earn your bewilderment and applause!” “Do your best!” the captain replied, and the weaver, tray in hand, jumped and danced out of the door, cut and run without looking back, arrived at his house all out of breath, jerked the door open and leapt inside, divorced his wife that instant, and went about his business.

The captain of the guard, for his part, waited and waited until he could see that no one would come or go anymore. His wife understood that the weaver had fled but didn’t let on a thing, silently sending him prayers and praise. And when the captain finally grasped that the fellow had escaped, he still didn’t catch on and could make neither head nor tail of anything he’d seen.

The reason we tell tales, my dear, is that we have a moral to share. So, don’t bind your wife too tightly, and neither leave her too free. For she has sprouted from a crooked root, and if you try to straighten it out too much, it will break.5 May God, sublime and exalted, deal with the wicked among them, for there is no one else who might, and may God, exalted and sublime, reform the wicked ones, for their tales are told far and wide.


Raviyan-i ahbar ve nakilan-i asar ve muhaddisan-i silsile-i devr-i rüzgâr şöyle rivayet idüb eydürler kim, zaman-i sabıkda şehr-i Nişabur’da bir avretin iki oynaşı var idi. Ol avret, oynaşının ikisine bile derdi kim, “erim öldüği vakten sana varırım” dir idi. Bunın üzerine bir müddet geçdi, ahir oynaşının biri eyitdi, “bu anın eri kaçan ölecekdir? Ben alam bari, bir müddet varayım, bu şehirden gidüb etrafı seyran ideyim, yine gelem” diyüb şehridendir çıkub gitdi.

Amma avretin şehirde kalan oynaşı bir çulha yiğidi var idi, aradan çok zaman geçmedin ol oynaşı yabanda iken avretin eri öldi, avret ol çulhaya vardı. Amma çulha bu avreti öyle sakınurdı kim bir yire gitse üzerine kapuyı kilidler gider idi. Kaçan hamama gider oldıkda, avreti alub evvelince hamama bile götürüb, avreti yunub çıkınca kapuda bekler idi, avret yunub çıkdıkda yine önüne düşüb evine getürir idi.

Bir müddet bunın üzerine geçdi. Bir gün ol yabana çıkub giden geldi, bu kere şol kadar cehd eyledi, bu avreti görüb bir kere bulışa, bir vechile mümkin olub göremedi. Bir gün, ol avretin evi etrafın gezinürken, meğer ol dolaşduğı yirde bir kocakarının evi var idi, ol karı bu yiğidi, ol etrafda bir iki gün dolanub gezdiğini görüb ol yiğide eyitdi, “ey oğıl, seni görürem iki gündir bunda dolaşursın, yohsa bu arada bir sevdiğin avret mi vardır? Benden saklama” dedi. Ol herif eyitdi, “hay anacığım, fülan kimsenin avretin severdim. Bir müddet vardır çıkub bu şehirden gitmiş idim. Şimdi geldim, hiç ol avreti göremedim” dedi.

Andan ol karı eyitdi, “oğıl, ol avretin eri öldi. Şimdi bir çulhaya vardı, anınladır” didi. Andan ol herif eyitdi, “anacığım, ya şimdi benim hâlim nice olur? Bari bir kere bulışabilsem! Derdinden ölüyorım” diyüb ağladı, ol avretin ciğerin dağladı. Dönüb ol karı eyitdi, “oğıl, hiç ağlama! Ben anınla seni âsân vechile bulışdırayım. Sen bir lahzadan bana gel bunda” diyüb ısmarladı.

Heman ol karı değneğin kakarak çulhanın evine gelüb kapuyı kakdı. Gelüb çulha kapuyı açdı. Karı heman içerü girdi, selam virdi, çulha aleyk alub gelüb yine dezgâhına girdi. Ol karı dahi gelüb karşusına oturub eyitdi, “oğıl, bu evde şimdi siz mi olursız?” dedi. Çulha dahi eyitdi, “biz oluruz.” Ol karı eyitdi, “evvel benim bunda bir dostım var idi, gelür gider dostlucak iderdik” dedi. Çulha eyitdi, “anacığım, yine gel git, bizimle dahi dostluk eyle” dedi. Andan karı eyitdi, “ya şimdi avretin içerüde midir? Ol benim küçikden elimde büyüdi” diyerek darb içerü girdi ve çulhayı taşrada bırakdı.

Çün ol karı avretin yanına girdi, heman avrete eyitdi, “ey oğıl, seni bir yiğit severmiş. Çıkmış, bir nice zamandır şehirden gitmiş, şimdi gelmiş. Senin derd ü aşkından deli divaneye dönmiş, gözlerinin yaşı ırmak olub akar. Genç âdemsin, anın gözi yaşı sana hayır etmez, bari bir kere dahi seninle bulışsa olmaz mı?” dedi. Karı öyle diyicek ol avret eyitdi, “anacığım, şimdi anınla bulışmağa hiç mümkin tarafı yokdır. Zira erim çulha bir lahza yanımdan gitmez, ve gider oldıkda dahi kapuyı üzerime kilidler, gider, gelür, açar. Elimden ne gelür? Bir çare yokdır kim anınla buluşam” dedi.

Heman karı eyitdi, “eğer senin anınla buluşmağa gönlin var ise, ben anı sana âsân bulışdırayım” dedikde heman çulhanın avreti eyitdi, “meded anacığım, yine derman olursa senden olur!” dedi. Dönüb fertûte eyitdi, “ol yiğid ile bulışmanın tarîki budır ki, şimdi ben gitdüğim vakit, bir saat geçdikden sonra, heman ur feryadı, ‘hay meded, belim! Meded, yanım! Meded, yüreğim!’” dedi. “Erin dahi içerü gelüb, ‘hay karı, noldın?’ didüği vakit heman sen eyit, ‘meded, üş oldım! Gâh gâh böyle olurdım, böyle olduğım vakten, şu demin gelen hatun benim analığımdır ve iyü, eli besilü hatundır, ol gelür, bana ilaç idüb iyü olurdım ve bu derdim def olurdı. Eğer ol hatun kişiyi varub getürmez isen bu derdden ben kurtılmazım’ diyesin” dedi. Heman gelüb karı çulhaya eyitdi, “oğıl, seni Huda’ya ısmarladım” diyüb gitdi.

Arası üç dört saat geçmedin çulhanın avreti urdı feryadı, “meded hay!” diyüb, gözleri yılırub, ağzı köpürüb urdı feryadı. Çulhanın aklı başından gitdi, eli ayağı soğudı. Bir zamandan sonra avret gözlerin açub çulha derd-mend eyitdi, “benim hâlim ah nice olur?” dedi. Çulha eyitdi, “benim boy-i servim, efendim, buna bir ilaç yok mıdır?” dedikde avret eyitdi, “ah efendim, benim bu derdim yılda bir, iki yılda bir kere tutar. Eğer ol deminki karı gelürse kurtulurım” diyüb urdı feryadı.

Çulha derd-mend, avretin bu hâlini görüb, heman kapusın kilidliyüb, seğirdüb ol kocakarının evine gelüb kapuyı dakk eyledi. Heman kocakarı içerüden, “acaba kimdir kapuyı kakan?” diyüb kapuya gelüb açdı. Gördi kapu öninde çulha durır, “hoş geldin oğlım, ne haber?” dedi. Ol arada çulha derd-mend eyitdi, “hay anacığım, meded eyle, yetiş! Avretin hâli harabdır, eğer irişmez isen ölüyor!” dedi. Andan ol karı eyitdi, “vallah oğıl, ben varımazım, elim değmez” dedi.

Amma ol herif kim avretin oynaşı idi, ol kocakarı ol oynaşı bir sandık içine koyub kilidlemiş idi, evinde hazır durırdı. Çulha eyitdi, “hay anacığım, lutf ü kerem eylesen, kim eğer irişmiyesin ol avret heman ölür!” diyüb ağlamağa başladı. Andan ol karı eyitdi, “hay oğıl, ben nice varayım? Bir oğullığım vardır, belki bugün bir emanet sandık koyub gitdi. İçinde ne var idüğin bilmezem. Evim harab, şimdi ben bu sanduğı bunda böyle yalnız koyub gidersem, ihtimaldir, bir haramzâde evin bir yerinden delüb girüb sanduğı alursa sonra ol yiğide ne cevab virürem?” dedi. Çün karı çulhaya bu cevabı virdi, çulha heman sanduğın yanına gelüb bir yol el etdi, gördi kim getürmeğe kabil, eyitdi, “hay anacığım, meded! Ben bu sanduğı getüreyim, seninle bile eve ileteyim! Tek lutf ü kerem eyle, benimle bile gel! Zira avretin hâli pek harabdır ve ölimi gayet yakındır!”

Ol ölicek karı eyitdi, “gel imdi, getür sanduğı, gidelim. Seninle yeni ana oğıl oldık ve hatunın da küçikden benim elimde büyüdi. Her daim bu derdi tutdıkça ben varub ilaç iderim. Ve lakin şimdi söyleyişine göre pek vara benzer, zira pek yaramazdır” dedi, “kaçan kim hareket eyliye, gayrı uyku gözlerine haram olur ve oturub duramaz” dedi. Çulha eyitdi, “hay anacığım, çâk didiğin gibidir” diyüb, heman sanduğı orta belinden bir urgan ile bağlıyub, salla-sırt idüb, karı önince çulha ardınca çün eve geldiler, çulha derd-mend sanduğı yire koyub, kapusının kilidin açub, sanduğı çâk evin içine, avretin olduğı yire getürüb kodı.

Amma avret, çün kocasının ve karının geldüğin işidicek, bunlar gelmezden mukaddem ocak başında bir döşek bırakmışdı, heman soyınub döşeğe girüb hazır olmışdı, oynaşının gelmesine bakardı. Heman ol mahalde basdı feryadı, “vah yüreğim! Meded, belim! Meded, yanım öldi! Hay, gitdim, hay!” diyüb urdı feryadı. “Tiz ol kocakarı” diyüb, heman karı dahi kolların sığayub, avretin yüreğin tutub eyitdi, “hay kızım, bu derd seni yine mi tutdı? Ancak şimdi evvelkiden pek tutmış! Benim oğlım, buna bir gûrdan kuyudan su getürüb, dahi bir eski Yahudi makberesinden tobrak getürmek gerekdir!”

Tiz çulha derd-mend, bunları, iki eteğin beline sokub, evin kapusın üzerlerine kilidliyüb gitdi. Avret dahi döşekden kalkub dibdiri oldı, asla ağrısı kalmadı. Heman kapuyı muhkem kapayub oynaşını sandukdan çıkarub, birbirlerine sarılub yab yab âlem etmeğe başladılar, ta ki çulha gelince. Kapuya geldüği gibi herife yine sanduğa koyub kapağın kapayub, üzerine kilidin urub başladı yine ağlayub feryada. Çulhadır gelüb suyı ve tobrağı getürüb meydane kodı. Ol kocakarı dahi kalkub ol suyı ve tobrağı birbirine katub heman aslı yokdan avretin beline ve göbeğine urub ve sürüb, üzerine bir iki yorgan örtüb çulhaya eyitdi, “artık var işin işle, bu hatun biraz rahat idüb dirilsün” dedi. Çulha dahi varub dezgâhına girüb işlemeğe başladı, biraz işledi.

Avret oynaşıyla âlem etmek istedikde hemandem çulha derd-mendi bir yirden dahi, “var, fülan şeyi getür” diyü gönderirler idi. Heman çulha kapuyı kilidliyüb giderdi, avret yine oynaşın çıkarub âlem iderler idi, ta çulha kapuya gelince. Çulha kapuya gelince tiz herifi sanduğa koyarlardı.

Elhasıl, bunın üzerine bir hafta geçdi. Bir haftadan sonra avret dibdiri olub bunlar dahi tamam murad üzere zevk ü alem etdiler. Bir haftadan sonra avret iyüce oldı. Karı eyitdi, “oğıl, bir haftadır ben de evime varmadım. Belki emanet sahibi gelmişdir, beni arar, bulamaz. İmdi lutf ü kerem eyle, bu sanduğı yine benimle evime iletüvir” didi. Çulha dahi, “anacığım, başım üstine” diyüb, heman sanduğı yine arkasına urub, kapusın kilidliyüb, karı önince, çulhanın sanduk arkasında ardınca, yab yab gitdiler.

Meğer ahşam yakın idi. Çulha, sırtında sanduk ağır olmak ile yab yab girderdi. Ahir yorılub sanduğı arkasından bir yüksecek yere koyub biraz dinlendi. Karının ise çulhanın dinlendiğinden haberi yok, önince bek bek giderdi. Çulha katlan[…],“kaçan ise ben evi bilürim, ko gitsün” diyüb mukayyed olmadı. Bir lahza dinlendikden sonra yine sanduğı arkasına alub giderken ahşam olmağile yolı şaşırub, bir gayrı yola girüb, bakub gördi kim yolı şaşırmış, dönmeğe başladı. Ahşam dahi geçüb göz gözi görmez oldı. Dönüb evine dahi gitmeğe yolı bulmayub heman tevekkülî giderken, nagâh yolı asesbaşının konağı semtine varub bir bölük aseslerin üzerine uğradı.

Asesler gördiler, bir herif, arkasında bir sanduk, altında iki kat olmış bükilüb gider, heman asesler bunı göricek birbirlerine eyitdiler, “hiç değil, bu herifin dahi yoldaşları vardır, bunlar bir eve girüb ev açmışlardır. Bu sanduğın içinde olan heb kumaş olmak gerekdir. Bunın elbetde bir yatak yirleri olmak gerekdir. Bu herifin yoldaşları ve yatak yirleri aceb kanda ola? Besbellü, bunın yoldaşları bu sanduğı buna yükledüb ol yatak olan yire getürirler, her biri bir tarafdan ol mahud oldıkları yire varırlar. Acaba ne şekil kimsenin evin açmışlardır? Büyük seray olmak gerekdir!” diyüb heman asesler çulhanın önin alub, “dur a bre herif! Bu gice vaktinde, sırtında bu sanduk nereye getürirsin, ve ne şekil kimsenin evini açdınız, ve yoldaşların kandadır, ve mahud olduğınız ev kandadır? Tiz söyle!” diyüb derd-mend çulhanın yakasından yapışub dur[…].

Heman çulha-i biçarenin can başına sıçrayub, ne cevab vireceğin bilemiyüb, dembeste olub, heman tiz yine aklın başına cem idüb gönlinden eyitdi, “bunlara bir yüzden cevab virmek gerekdir ki başım kurtaram” diyüb, heman dönüb bunlara çulha eyitdi, “ben hokkabazım. Bugün taht-ül-kalede hengâme eyledim. Bu sandıkda olan, hokkabaz esbabı, busadıdır” dedikde bunlar eyitdiler, “ya bu zaman kanda idin? Böyle yalnız kanda gidersin?” Eyitdi, “hengâmdan sonra şakirdimi odaya gönderdim, bazı busad ile bekledim, gele sanduğı dahi ala, gelmedi. Gayrı ahşam da oldı, na-çâr, gördim gelür gider yok, heman sanduğı arkama alub giderken, misafirim, yol yanıldım, konağımın semtini yavuk kıldım, tevekkülî giderken işte şimdi üş size rast geldim” dedi.

Bunlar eyitdiler, “abes söyleme, sen haramisin, hayırlı herife benzemezsin! Dahi senin yoldaşların vardır, siz bu sanduğı ev açub uğırlamışsızdır!” Birisi eyitdi, “heman bunı asesbaşıya getürelim, elbetde bunı asesbaşı söyledir!” diyüb heman çulhayı alub asesbaşının katına getürdiler. Asesbaşı eyitdi, “bre, bu herif nedir?” dedi. Asesler eyitdiler, “bilmezüz, fülan yirde rast geldik, arkasında bu sanduk, gider. ‘Nedir?’ dedik, eyitdi, ‘ben hokkabazım, bugün taht-ül-kalede hengâme itdim, ahşama kaldım, yol […], odamın yolını bulamadım’ dir. Bilmeziz ki gerçek midir yalan mıdır?” dediler.

Meğer asesbaşının dahi bir mahbube avreti vardı, gayet sever idi. Her zaman asesbaşıya eydürdi, “aceb sen de asesbaşı oldın, bana bir tasbaz veya bir hokkabaz mı seyretdirdin?” diyü her bar tekaza ider idi. Heman ol mahalde, asesbaşıya asesler böyle diyicek, asesbaşı dönüb çulhaya eyitdi, “gerçek sen hokkabaz mısın?” Çulha eyitdi, “beli, üstad hokkabazım, ki dahi yakın zamanda benim gibi bu şehre bir hokkabaz gelmemişdir!” “Benim başım içün, iyü elime girdin! Getür imdi sanduğı, eve gidelim, bize hokkabazlık idiver, seyr-i temaşa idelim. Subhan olıcak yine varub odana gidesin” diyüb, heman yirinden durub, çulhayı önine katub doğrı evine geldi, kapu kakdı.

Meğer asesbaşının avretinin bir oynaşı var idi, her gice gelüb ol avret ile zevk âlem iderdi. Asesbaşı ancak cuma gicesi evde yatur idi, gayrı gice konakda yatur idi, ol avret oynaşıyla sabaha dek âlem ve işret iderlerdi. Yine çıblak döşekde sarmaşub yaturken heman kapu kakıldı. Tiz cariyeler kapuya seğirtdiler. Kapuyı açdılar, gördiler efendileri asesbaşıdır gelan, heman cariyenin biri seğirdüb içerü girüb kadına haber etdiler. “Meded, kadın! Efendi geldi!” diyince, heman avret oynaşını tiz çıblak eyledi, bir büyük Husrevanî küb var idi, anın içine kodı.

Bu yaka, asesbaşı kapudan içerü giricek, efsane olınur heman çulhanın arkasında sandık ile içerü girdiğin. Meğer odanın penceresinden avretin olduğı evin içi görinür idi. Ol mahalde, sanduk arkasında içerü giderken, gözi pencereden içerü rast gelüb, ol avretin oynaşını çıblak eyleyüb küb icine koyduğını görüb açmaz kodı, “bakalım ayine-i devran dahi ne suret gösterir” dedi.

Berüden asesbaşı içerü, avretinin yanına girdi. Heman avret eydür, “hay efendi, hiç bu vakit eve geldüğin yok idi! Ne rüzgâr esdi bu gice geldiniz?” dedikde asesbaşı eyitdi, “benim çok sevdiğim, her bâr benim başıma kakardın, ‘asesbaşı oldın, bana bir oyuncı veya bir hokkabaz mı getürdin?’ dir idin. Üş bir üstad hokkabaz elime girdi, getürdim. Oynasın, seyr ü temaşa eyle!” dedi. Heman asesbaşı çulhaya eyitdi, “imdi oyna, usta hokkabaz!” dedi. “Amma biz bir iyü seyr ü temaşa göster!” dedikde çulha eyitdi, “efendi, bu gice şakirdim bunda yok, ve dairem ve bazı busadlarım dahi eksik, ve sanduk dahi kilidlü, miftahı dahi şakirdimde. Amma bu sanduk ile busadlarım bunda, sizin yanınızda dursun, ben odama varayım, sabah şakirdimi ve bazı lazım olan çâk busadları alayım, andan gelüb bir hoş yolından oynayub sizlere seyr ü temaşa etdüreyim” dedi.

Heman asesbaşı kakıyub yerinden turugelüb eline bir balta alub eyitdi, “elbetde ya bu sanduğı aç oyna, temaşa idelim, yohsa bu balta ile sanduğı pârelerim, pâre pâre olur!” dedi. Bu kere sanduğın içinde herif eydür, “hay meded, ne aceb hâle uğradım! Eğer şimdi bu herif balta ile bu sanduğı urub pârelerse sanduk başıma uşanur ve yalıncak meydane çıkub boğazı ele virürim! Ve asesbaşı sorarsa, ‘be herif, bu sanduk içinde ne ararsın?’ diyicek ne cevab virürem?” diyüb, tövbe ve istiğfar idüb tazarru‘a başladı ve yüreği davulcu bargiri gibi tob tob atmağa başladı.

Bu yandan çulha eyitdi, “hay beyim, lutf ü kerem eyle, şol sanduğı uşatma! Ben bir derviş kişiyim, birin dahi almağa gücüm yetmez!” dedi. Bu keredir asesbaşı musırr olub eyitdi, “yok, elbetde ya bu sanduğı aç oyna, yahud uşadırım!” diyü ibram eyledi. Bes çulha gördi bir vechile savuşdırmak mümkin olmadı, heman ol mahalde çulha dönüb eyitdi, “efendi, eğer sen benim sanduğımı uşadırsan, ayruk elimden nesne gelmez, ben dahi işbu duran küpi uşadırım!” dedi. Heman asesbaşının avreti çulhadan bu cevabı işidicek tamam bildi kim kendi oynaşı küp içine koyduğını görmiş, elbetde kocası sanduğı uşadırsa, bu herif dahi küpi uşatdıkda oynaşı meydane çıkub sırrım fâş olacakdır. Heman avret dönüb eyitdi, “hay meded, şol derd-mendin sanduğın uşadub buna zor etme! Bana bu mahalde hokkabaz seyri gerekmez, bu derd-mendi koyvir, odasına gitsün, sabah yine şakirdini ve bazı eksik olan şeylerini dahi alub getürsün, hem bir âdem gibi oynasun, seyr ü temaşa idelim” dedi ve asesbaşıya yalvardı.

Çare olmadı. Asesbaşının elinde balta, “elbetde ya sanduğın aç oyna, yohsa bu balta ile sanduğın uşadırım!” Dönüb avretine eyitdi, “yine sonra bana eydürsin, ‘hokkabazı getürdin de kâdir olmadın oynadırmağa’ diyü bana tekaza idersin! Elbetde oynasın!” dedi. Avretin ise seyr ü temaşa eylemek canına minnetdir amma küb içinde olan herif meydane çıkarsa sırrı fâş olur. Andan ötüri, “ben hokkabaz istemem” diyü asesbaşıya yalvardı ve “bir dahi tövbeler olsun, ben hokkabaz istemem!” diyü yalvardı.

Velhasıl bu mücadelede iken heman çulha usul ile sanduğın yanına varub bir yol kilide el urdı. Evvelden de kilid altı mülahaza bir çürük kilid imiş, heman berisi eline geldi. Çulha anı göricek, “bir yol bakalım, bu sanduğın içinde ne vardır” diyüb azacık sanduğın kapağını kaldırıcak gördi kim içinde bir çıblak herif büzülüb yatur. Heman […] kapağın kapayub kendü kendüsine eyitdi, “gördin mi, ‘avretlerde vefa yokdır’ didikleri gerçek imiş! ‘Sakınan göze çöb düşer’ didikleri sahih imiş! Ben avretimi ne kadar sakınurdım ve gözimden kıskanırdım ve kapuyı üzerinden kilidlerdim ve hamama gitse bile giderdim! Ahir kendü elimle getürdim, oynaşını evime iletmişim ve göz göre pezevenk olmışım ve asesbaşı dahi benim uğraduğıma uğramış! Hey, vah!” diyüb, “kendü kendüme etmişim, haberim yok!” diyüb, kendünin ol aradan halâsına bir hile etmek fikrine varub, heman çulha dönüb asesbaşıya eyitdi, “hay efendi, kakıyub gazaba gelme! Oğlan sanduğı kilidlememiş, üş kilidi açıldı. İmdi sen […] yerinizde oturın, sizlere bir sırr ü acaib seyr itdüreyim ki hiç bir zamanda bir hokkabaz dahi seyr etdirtmiş ve oynamamış ola. Ve ben dahi ömrimde bu bed-i hokkabazlık kimsenin öninde oynamamışım, ve hiç kimse dahi böyle sırr-i acîbi görmemiş ola!” dedi. Asesbaşı eyitdi, “işte benim dahi muradım öyledir!” didi ve elinden baltayı yere koyub avretiyle geçüb karar eylediler ve “çulha acaba ne şekil sırr ü acaib şey gösterir?” diyüb durdılar. Asesbaşının avretinin bir mikdar canı yerine geldi.

Andan çulha eyitdi, “benim gırbalım yokdır, bana bir tebsi getürin, bari anı çalayım” dedi. Heman asesbaşı emr eyledi, cariyeler bir tebsi getürdiler. Heman ol tebsiyi eline alub dedi, “siz seyran eylen, ben bir âdem şol sandukdan ve bir âdem şol kübden çıkarayım, ikisi karşu-be-karşu gelüb önünizde oynasunlar. Bir tebsi çalayın!” diyüb heman çulha tebsiyi eline alub başladı, “ha şimdi çıkar acaib, acaibin acaib, şimdi çıkar garaib, garaibin garaib” diyüb tebsiyi çalarak sanduğın yanına gelüb bir yol ellerin çarpdı.

Andan eğilüb yanca yanca herife eyitdi, “bre sikdiğim gidisi, seni bu sanduğın içine kim kodı? İmdi eger kurtılmak istersen, bir herif dahi küb içinde vardır, anı dahi çıkarayım, ben tebsiyi çalayın, siz karşu-be-karşu oynan, heman oynayarak kapudan yana varın, dahi heman taşra çıkub ardınıza öninize bakman, kaçın, kurtulun. Yohsa vallah asesbaşı öyle urur boztağanı size kim derileriniz buçuk değmez olur. İmdi heman didüğim vakten çıkasız” diyüb elindeki tebsiyi çalarak küpin yanına vardı.

Bir yol ellerin çarpub […] küpdeki herife dahi eyitdi, “sikdiğim gidisi, demin sen küpe girdüğin vakit ben seni gördim idi. Eğer kurtulmak dilersen, ‘kübdeki, gel çık!’ dediğim vakten çıkasın, sandukdan çıkan âdemile karşu-be-karşu oynayarak yab yab kapudan taşra çıkub kaçub halâs olasın. Yohsa asesbaşının elinden bir vechile kurtulamıyub yersiz boztağanı” diyüb ana dahi böylece ısmarlıyub, “sakınub korkman, heman ben ‘çıkın’ dediğim vakit çıkın” diyüb bir hoşca tenbih ve takid eyledi.

Amma asesbaşının avreti oturduğı yirde büzgilmeğe başladı, benzi bozıldı. Çün asesbaşı avretinin bozıldığın görüb eyitdi, “ey canımın canı, böyle büzildin” dedi. Avret eyitdi, “ben korkarım, şimdi bu sandukdan ve küpden ne şekil âdemler çıkarsa gerekdir?” diyince heman asesbaşı eyitdi, “ey benim canımın canı, korkma, ol hokkabaz göz bağcıdır, anın sandukdan ve küpden çıkaracağı gerçekden âdem değildir, heman hayalat gösterir. Sakınub korkma, hele bak, ne güzel seyir gösterse gerekdir, heman seyr ü temaşa eyle” diyince avretin bir mikdar yüreği yirine geldi. Avret bir de fikr iderdi ki “küpden herif çıkdıkda eğer asesbaşı duyarsa ne cevab virürim?” Olmadı, bir cevab virecek söz bulamadı, “hoş imdi, hele bakalım, iş ne yüzden olur” diyüb besm olub durdı. Amma asesbaşı ise, hokkabaz sanduğı ve küpi efsun ider kıyas eyledi.

Bes çulha dönüb küpin yanından tepsiyi çalarak orta yire geldi, ve dönüb çulha asesbaşıya eyitdi, “efendi, buyurın, cariyeler evin kapusın açsunlar. Gerçi sanduğa küpe efsunların tamam eyledim, lakin bu göstereceğim sanat, büyük sanatdır. Kapular açık gerek, ta kim benim işim bir hoş açılub katınızda hecil olmayım ve işim bağlanmasun, açılsun. Zira bu benim ideceğim işi hiç bir zamanda bir hokkabaz etmiş değildir!” diyince asesbaşı emr etdi, cariyeler cümle kapuları açdılar.

Çulha, elinde tebsi çalmağa başlıyub, “şimdi çıkar acaib, hay garaib, acaib, şimdi çıkar garaib” diyüb sanduğın kapağın açınca içinden anadan toğma bir âdem çıkub heman başladı bura bura oynamağa. Asesbaşı avretine eyitdi, “iyü üstad hokkabaz imiş! Aceb küpden dahi çıkarub karşu-be-karşu oynadır dahi ola?” dedikde avret eyitdi, “sandukdan çıkardı, küpden dahi çıkarmak gerekdir. Eğer küpden dahi çıkarırsa acaib seyr itmiş olur” didi.

Çün çulha, elinde tebsi, orta yire gelüb, andan küpin yanına gelüb, “hay şimdi çıkar acaib, küpden dahi garaib, hem acaib, garaib, gel kübden sen dahi çık acaib!” dedikde, meğer asesbaşı avretinin küpe koyduğı oynaşı bir kasab yiğidi imiş, heman ol hâlde küpden anadan toğma çıkub karşu-be-karşu âlâ yolından bura bura oynamağa başladılar. Asesbaşı avretine eyitdi, “sakın korkma benim canım, bunlar gerçekden değil hayalatdır” dedi.

Çün küpden kasab yiğidi dahi çıkdı, bunlar oynamağa başlıyub, oynarken çulha bunlara “kapudan tarafa gidin” diyü işaret eyledi. İki avretin oynaşları orta yirde oynarlarken, çün çulhanın işaretin gördiler, heman “fırsat ganimetdir” diyüb kalkışarak ve sıçraşarak yab yab kapudan tarafa varub, andan taşra olub, kapular açık, heman ol aradan taban kaldırub, kapudan taşra olub bir baş solukların mekânlarında aldılar.

Beriden çulha gördi anlar halâs oldılar, kendü kendüsine eyitdi, “anları hile ile halâs etmek hüner değildir. Hüner oldır ki kendüni dahi halâs eyle, yohsa anların yiyeceği boztağanı sen yirsin” diyüb, amma asesbaşı çulhanın itdüği işe hayran olub kendü kendüye eyitdi, “çok hokkabaz gördim amma bu hokkabazın eyledüği sanatı hiç ömrimde görmedim! Kendünin sanduğından bir âdem çıkara ve benim küpümden bir âdem çıkara! Bu hüner çok hünerdir ve bu sanat çok sanatdır ve kimse dahi görmiş değildir!” ve bundan bir şey anlayamıyub gerçekden hayalat kıyas eyledi ve azîm fikre vardı.

Heman çulha fehm ü idrak eyledi ki asesbaşı kendünin eylediği hile-yâbına ve sanatına akıl irişdirmiyüb hayrete vardı, heman ol mahalde çulha eyitdi, “ağa efendi, küpden ve sandukdan âdem çıkarmak hüner değildir ve bu sanat bir hüner değildir! Hüner oldır kim şimdi varam, taşradan birini maymun ve birini şebek idüb getürüb karşunızda oynadam! İşte seyir bu seyirdir. Bu ideceğim sanata dahi hayran kalasız!” dedikde heman asesbaşı, “ha göreyim seni, usta hokkabaz! Heman iş gör, sana bu etdiğin sanatlar mukabelesinde bahşiş dahi virürim!” diyince avreti eyitdi, “vallah efendi, bu hokkabaz, üstad ve dahi sanatında mahir ve kâmil hokkabaz imiş! Görülmedik seyranlar gösterdi! Eğer bu didiği sanatı da gösterir ise çok hünerdir ve azîm ihsana müstahakdır” dedi. Avretin bu sözlerden muradı, asesbaşıyı heveslendirüb, bir yol çulha taşra çıkub ve taban kaldırub gide, kendü sırrı fâş olmıya.

Heman asesbaşı eyitdi, “ha göreyim seni, heman iş gör!” dedi. Çulha gönlinden eyitdi, “hele bir kere taşra çıkabilsem, ol zaman siz de görirsiz seyri” diyüb bir kere bacakların sığayub, dönüb asesbaşıya eyitdi, “ağa efendi, acaba ol iki âdemden birin maymun, birin dahi şebek mi etsem, yohsa eşek mi etsem?” dedi. Asesbaşı eyitdi, “eşeğin maymun ile münasebeti yokdır. Şebek eyle” dedi. Çulha eyitdi, “imdi siz seyr eylen, görin ne fasl idüb hüner göstersem gerekdir ki siz dahi acebe kalub bana pesend idesiz” dedi. Heman asesbaşı eyitdi, “di imdi, göreyim seni!” dedi. Heman çulha, elinde tebsi, sıçrayarak ve çalarak kapudan taşra olub, hiç eğlenmiyüb, nerd-bandan aşağı inüb andan kapudan taşra olub, anda dahi eyleşmiyüb, taban kaldırub bir baş soluğı evinde alub, kapusın açub, içerü girüb, ol saat avretine talak virüb kendü işine meşgul oldı.

Bu tarafdan asesbaşı bekledi, gördi kim gelür gider yok. Avreti duydı çulhanın firar eyledüğini amma hiç tınmayub açmaz kodı ve çulhaya gönlinden dualar ve aferinler eyledi. Asesbaşı gayrı bilüb anladı kim herif kaçdı, yine bir şey anlamadı, bu işlerden asla bir şey fehm idemedi.

Benim canım, kıssadan murad olan hissedir. Avretin üzerine gayet pek mukayyed olma ve pek de boş koma. Zira eğri kökden hasıl olmışdır, pek doğrıldayım dirsen kırılur. Heman Hakk-i sübhane ve teala yaramazlarının haklarından gele, ve yohsa yaramaz ile başa çıkılmaz. Ve yaramazları da Hakk-i teala ıslah eyliye, kıssaları meşhurdır.

1. Traité sur les ruses des femmes. Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits XVIIIe siècle. Supplément turc 1407.
2. The transliteration aims at simplicity and accessibility rather than the exactitude of a critical edition. I have introduced punctuation, and while retaining the spelling conventions of the original texts, I have only done so within the confines of the modern Turkish alphabet. Grammar and spelling inconsistencies in the original texts have been preserved.
3. A historic Silk Road city located in northeastern Iran.
4. Traditionally, Middle Eastern homes were divided into a public reception area (selamlık in Turkish) and a private area (haremlik in Turkish) reserved for household members only. Here, we can imagine that the crone has forced her way through the selamlık, where she was received by the weaver, into the haremlik.
5. This saying references a hadith—a tradition concerning the life and sayings of the prophet Muhammad. The hadith in question advises men “to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women.” See Muhammad al-Bukhari, The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari, translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1997, volume 7, book 62, number 114.