Told in the Coffee House: Turkish Tales | Annotated Tale

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Jew Turned Turk

SIRKEDJI, the landing-place on the Stamboul side of the Golden Horn, is always a scene of bustle and noise. The Caiquedjis, striving for custom, cry at the top of their voices: "I am bound for Haskeuy; I can take another man; my fare is a piaster!"

               Others call in lusty tones, that they are bound for Karakeuy. Further out in the stream are other caiques, bound for more distant places, some with a passenger or two, others without. In one of these sat a Jew patiently waiting, while the Caiquedji, standing erect, backed in and out, every now and then calling at the top of his voice: 'Iuskidar,' meaning that he was bound for Scutari, on the Asiatic shore.

               At last a Mussulman signed to him to approach, and inquired his fare. After some bargaining, the Turk entered the caique, and the boatman still held on to the pier in the hope of securing a third passenger, which, after a very short time, he did. The third passenger happened to be a Jew, who had forsaken his faith for that of Islam.

               This converted individual saw at a glance that one of his fellow-passengers was a Moslem and the other a Jew, and wishing to gain favor in the eyes of the former, he called the other a 'Yahoudi' (meaning Jew, but usually employed as a term of disdain) and told him to make room for him. This the Jew meekly did, without a murmur, and the Caiquedji bent his oars for the Asiatic shore. The converted Jew and the Turk started a conversation, which they kept up till within a short distance of Scutari, when the Turk turned and said to the Jew, who had humbly been sitting on the low seat with bowed head and closed eyes:

               "And what have you to say on the subject, Moses?"

               "Alas! Pasha Effendi," answered the Jew, "I have been asleep, and have not followed your conversation; and if I had, what worth could my opinion be, I, a poor Jew?"

               The converted Jew then said: "At least, you can tell us, to pass the time, where you have been in your sleep?" and he burst out laughing, thinking it a capital joke.

               "I dreamt I was in Paradise," replied the poor Jew. "Oh! it was wonderful! There were three great golden gates, and on the inside, at the side of the keeper of each gate, stood Mohammed at one, Moses at the other, and Jesus at the third. No one was allowed to pass into Paradise, unless Mohammed, Moses, or Jesus gave the order that they should pass. At Mohammed's gate a man knocked, and on being opened, the keeper asked:

               "'What is your name?' to which he replied, 'Ahmet.'

               "'And your father's name?' again asked the keeper. 'Abdullah.'

               "And the prophet signed with his hand that he might enter.

               "I then went to the gate where Jesus stood, and heard the same questions put to an applicant. He told the keeper that his name was Aristide, and that his father's name was Vassili, and Jesus permitted him to enter.

               "Hearing a loud knocking at Mohammed's gate again, I hurried to see who the important comer was. There stood a man of confident mien, who proudly answered that his name was Hussein Effendi.

               "'And your father's name?' asked the keeper. 'Abraham,' replied Hussein. At this Mohammed said: 'Shut the door; you can't enter here; mixtures will not do.'"

               "Eh! What happened next?" asked the Turk.

               "Just then, as the gate was shutting, I heard your voice and I awoke, Pasha Effendi," answered the Jew; "and so I can't tell you."

               And as they approached the Scala (landing), they disembarked at Scutari and separated without a word.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Jew Turned Turk
Tale Author/Editor: Adler, Cyrus & Ramsay, Allan
Book Title: Told in the Coffee House: Turkish Tales
Book Author/Editor: Adler, Cyrus & Ramsay, Allan
Publisher: Macmillan & Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1898
Country of Origin: Turkey
Classification: unclassified

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