Gurel rode to the front of the entourage ,dismounted and waited in the vain hope of catching a glimpse of Rana through the lattice window of her carriage. Just as he was leading his horse to the fountain to drink the carriage passed and Rana peered out at the gate .
Gurel turned toward her as she stretched her arm out of the window and reached for her hand but the carriage moved on too quickly and Rana disappeared once more from view. He then remounted and joined the ranks once more as they rode through the gate.
He had joined the janissaries and sworn his allegiance to the Ottoman Empire on the very day he had found his beloved Rana at the slave market. Finding his way into the palace had been easy but now he must find a way to her chamber. There had been talk from others in the ranks of a visiting opera company all the way from Italy that would be performing at Yildiz Palace the following evening. This had been organised by Sultan Hamid who was an avid opera lover. The sultan often chose dancers from his select group of favourites to entertain the company after the performance and the talk was that Rana had already been decided upon even though Hamide had not yet seen her dance. It was common for visiting opera companies to cast extras and bit part players from the people of Constantinople.
They would scour the streets of Pera in search of character types that would suit roles they needed to fill. It occurred to Gurel that he might be deemed suitable if he appeared as a gypsy and made it almost impossible for them to ignore him. He would beg on his knees if he had to. He had heard that the ladies of the harem were allowed to watch the operas from the balconies upstairs or from screens behind the stage. From the stage he would be able to see her and hopefully she would see him also and know that he would stop at nothing to save her.
He would somehow make his way to her in the guise of a character and none but she would recognise him. A gypsy troth could never be broken and they would find themselves once again in each other’s arms. Rana, of course, knew nothing of Gurel’s plan but she was sure he would come for her. The gypsy blood surged in her veins at the mere thought of him. No walls could keep him from her. This sultan, this man who thought he could keep her caged like a bird would never capture her spirit. That very night she would be presented in The Great Hall to a man twice her age. She was well versed in feminine wiles and would somehow keep the sultan at bay. Gurel must have faith.
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 20/3/2014