The Captivity of Osman Bey, Son of Omer Bey

Sung by Ibrahim Nuhanović

 (See the Serbo-Croatian text)

(See comments on this poem)

Was it the rumble of thunder, or of earthquake,     1
or of the sea crashing on the strand?     2
Or were the winds howling in the mountains?     3
Was the border-guard engaging some intruder     4
—was it Almighty God's tremendous sound,     5
or was it ordnance of the Emperor of Istanbul?     6

...or was it earthquake,     1
or the sea crashing on the strand,     2
or were winds howling in the mountains?     3
Was the border-guard engaging some intruder,     4
was it Almighty God’s tremendous sound,     5
or else was it ordnance of the Emperor of Istanbul?     6
But no: neither was it thunder, nor yet earthquake,     7
nor was the sea crashing on the strand;     8
neither were the winds howling in the mountains,     9
nor yet was the border-guard engaging some intrud[er];     10
it was not Almighty God’s tremendous sou[nd],     11
nor ordnance of the Emperor of Istanb[ul],     12
it was battle-cannon firing salvoes     13
at Glasinac above Sarajevo     14
in the Imperial Province of Bosnia
    —that, I believe, is where it happened—    
at the castle of Hasan Alaybey,     16
for the Alaybey had commenced to celebr[ate]     17
the bringing of a girl from Taslid[ža],     18
the daughter of his age-mate, the Dizdar of Taslid[ža],     19
for to be his nephew’s bride, wife of Osman B[ey].     20
The girl had only just arrived at her new ho-     21
me, and the wedding-party were gathered in the bright courty[ard].     22
The men of elder years were in the parlour,     23
while the young men entertained themselves in the bright courty[ard].     24
Some joined in a ring-dance there in the ya[rd],     25
while others sat drinking cool dri[nks],     26
and still others put large ston[es].     27
Bey Osmanbey was still walking his white hor-     28
se, the white war horse of Hasan Alaybe-     29
y, there before his stone cas-     30
tle, and as his gaze wander-     31
ed he caught sight of a rider approaching over the fi-     32
eld, one mounted on a post-horse of the worshipful Emper-     33
or. The mount groaned and the postrider jangled in the sad-     34
dle as he flicked the horse with his riding-crop.     35
As the rider drew nearer,     36
Bey Osmanbey discerned     37
that he wore the livery of none other
   than the worshipful Emperor himself.    
So the rider came on, driving his white mount hard
   until he reached the Bey.    
Then he halted his horse and gave greeting,     40
to which Osmanbey replied in kind,     41
nor did either forget to inquire about the other man’s health.     42
When both had declared themselves well,     43
then the Imperial retainer asked:     44
“Young man, you who stand here beside your white horse,     45
I conjure you by Almighty God whom we love,     46
—it is, remember, a servant of the Emperor who asks you—     47
where is Glasinac? Which way is it from here,     48
and where is the castle of Bey Osmanbey     49
—Osman Bey, the son of Omer Bey?     50
Is it possible for me to reach him?     51
Would I dare to speak with him,     52
considering that the Emperor himself knows of him?”     53
Osman Bey smiled when he heard this, and said:     54
“Retainer of our worshipful Emperor,     55
he is not far to seek, this man of whom you speak,
    for no other man who might be mistaken for him dwells hereab[outs],    
though this is the castle of my uncle Hasan Alaybey by right,     57
for he himself still sees the li[ght];     58
but the one whom you have approached is Bey Osmanbey.     59
It is the Bey who speaks with yo[u].”     60
Surveying him, the Emperor’s retainer sa[id]:     61
“Perhaps you might attempt to deceive m[e]?”     62
“I swear to you by this world and the next, I do not deceive you.”     63
The young liveryman thought to himself:     64
‘This fellow is lying to me, not telling me the truth at all.’     65
How could he be Bey Osmanbey     66
—this young innocent who hasn’t yet so much as grown moustaches!—     67
that the Emperor should have cognizance of him?     68
Nevertheless the postrider drew forth the firman which he was carrying.     69
He held it forth in his left hand,     70
while with his right he drew his sword.     71
‘Should it happen that this truly is the Bey,     72
the firman will open for him of its own accord;     73
But if he has tried to deceive me,     74
my sword will instantly decapitate him.’     75
Now when the Bey caught sight of the firman,     76
he straightway did obeisance to i[t],     77
then he took it in his hand and kissed i[t],     78
whereupon the firman opened for him of its own accord     79
and the Imperial postrider put away his swo[rd].     80
So the Bey began to see what the firman had to tell hi-     81
m. This is what the Emperor had written:     82
“Well now, my dear courtier, Bey Osmanbey     83
—Osman Bey, son of Omer Bey—     84
behold, my son, how you are known to your Sultan!     85
But have you, for your part, heard what has befallen m[e]?     86
Certain Christian kings have usurped my pow[er],     87
captured an Imperial dep[ot],     88
and taken control of Rumelia,     89
whence I was accustomed formerly to provision all my army.     90
They have captured the city of Hotin complete with its fortifications     91
and drawn their new boundary at the Hotka River,     92
cutting me off from my Imperial depot.     93
Thus have the Four Kings done, who are mightiest of their kind:     94
one of them is England, and with him are conjoined the King of France,     95
and the Moscovite from the land of Russia,     96
and the Maltese king from accursèd Malta.     97
It is now seven years     98
that I, the Emperor, have been away from Istanbul,     99
campaigning in person beneath Hotin all this while     100
against the Four Ki-     101
ngs, bringing my might to bear against th-     102
em. Every day I have bombarded Ho-     103
tin, But I have not yet so much as chipped its walls,     104
Nor do I know on which side are its gat[es].     105
So it has come to pass that my hodjas have delved into the
    Traditions of The Prophet,    
my hadjis have unrolled the scrolls of La[ws],     107
and have given me to understand     108
that I cannot conquer without the aid of Bosnia,     109
for verily I have no confidence in this other commander     110
but only in you, who are to me like unto mine own two precious eyes.     111
So soon as this my firman reaches you,     112
look you that you muster up for me my Bosnians
    from all the province of Bosnia.    
Only do not muster any mother’s only son,     114
nor any man who is newly wed,     115
for such men do not fight valiantly for their Emperor,     116
and this is no short campaign of merely seven weeks
   to which I summon you,    
but rather a term of seven years;     118
neither shall I remit a single day of the enlistment,     119
nor yet shall I require one day more.”     120
Bey Osmanbey laughed when he read this, and said:     121
“O thou bearer of Emperor Suleyman’s firm[ans],     122
I know my duty both to God and to this summons,     123
and to the Emperor, Sultan Suleyman.     124
But as to what the Emperor has written in his firman     125
—that I am not to muster any mother’s only son     126
nor any man who is newly w[ed]     127
(For these conditions, as it happens, touch me myse[lf],     128
who am my mother’s only so[n]     129
and who have wedded, lo this very day!     130
Indeed I have not yet so much as laid eyes on my new bride)—     131
still I know what my duty is both to God and to the firman;     132
and I shall surely go to serve my Emperor’s army     133
without complaint of leaving my young bride.     134
But you, my good man, come in now with me and accept
    our hospitality; lodge here with us tonight.”    
“Thank you, Osman Bey. But I may not.     136
The Emperor has so commanded me     137
that I dare not stop anywhere at night.”     138
So the Tatar immediately turned his white horse about
    to go again whence he had come,    
while Osman Bey went into the castle yard.     140
There he found some of the wedding guests drinking cool drinks,     141
while others of them danced a ring-dance in the courtya[rd].     142
But when Osman Bey had tended his white hor[se],     143
he entered the castle and opened the parlour door,     144
and found his uncle Hasan Alaybey within,     145
surrounded there by a dozen other eld[ers],     146
including the learnèd Tahi[r].     147
To this priest the Bey made a sign with his eyes,     148
whereupon the priest rose and followed him into the courty[ard].     149
“What is it, my son, Bey Osmanbey?”     150
“Good sir, by your precious faith,     151
tell no one else what I am about to tell you.     152
An Imperial Firman has just now come to me:     153
the Emperor requires me to join his army,     154
which is besieging Hotin beside the icy Hotka River.     155
There I am to campaign against an alliance of four kings.     156
The term of my enlistment has been set     157
at seven years, nor more nor less.”     158
When the priest had perused the firman,     159
he returned into the parlour,     160
and there, loud enough that he might be heard,
   he said to Hasan Alaybey:    
“Old fellow, Hasan Alaybey,     162
it seems your celebration must needs by short-liv[ed].     163
Early ’though it is, I must even now complete the wedding rites
    and join the girl    
to your nephew, Bey Osmanbey.”     165
No man gainsayed his wo[rd],     166
but all acceded to his intent[ion].     167
So the priest performed the rite of marri[age]     168
and the wedding guests turned to the fea[st].     169
But afterwards each man went his separate way to his own home,     170
while Osman Bey went in to be with his darling in the bridal cham[ber].     171
Consorting with her there,     172
the Bey passed four hours.     173
But when the fifth hour came,     174
Bey Osmanbey opened a linen-chest     175
and drew forth Stambolian clothes.     176
The new bride from Taslidža began to cry unconsolably:     177
“In the name of God, my Bey, what are you doing?     178
What have I done to deserve such ruin,     179
that you thus so unexpectedly abandon me     180
on our very first evening together here in your chamber?     181
Where does this girl dwell, the one whom you hold dearer than me?     182
Good health to you, but death to her     183
—and when she has died, may you soon return to me!”     184
Bey Osmanbey laughed at this:     185
“Sweetheart of mine here in my inner chamber,     186
nowhere have I anyone more dear to me than yo[u].     187
Have no fear, my lo[ve],     188
your Osman Bey is not about to go a-courting.     189
Rather, my dear, I am making myself ready here in our room     190
because an Imperial firman has reached m[e],     191
one in which the Emperor summons me to join his ar[my],     192
to muster the fighting men of Bosni[a]     193
and wage war with them against four allied ki[ngs],     194
Oh my darling, for seven ye[ars].     195
Not one day less will he remi[t],     196
nor yet require so much as one day more.     197
But come now, tell me truthfully:     198
might you wish to leave the castle tomorrow morn     199
and plunge my dear mother into mourning     200
together with my uncle, Hasan Alaybey,     201
and my aunt, the Alaybey’s lady?     202
For if you would do that on the morrow,     203
then come with me now, and may God keep thee well;     204
let me even now take you up behind me on my white horse     205
and carry you back again to your father.     206
Then marry whomever you wish     207
and do not wait the seven years for me,     208
for even seven weeks are no joking matter,     209
while I shall surely be away full seven years.”     210
His bride exclaimed with an adder’s urgent voice:     211
“Do not thus rend my heart within my bre[ast]!     212
God be thanked for my good fortu-     213
ne, that I have chanced to be the bride of an Imperial warri[or],     214
for as hecatombs are fattened against the time of festiv[al],     215
so are strong men reared to be soldiers of the Emper[or].     216
And fear thee not, Bey Osmanbey:     217
I shall not leave thy castle,     218
I swear by God, until the day I die.”     219
So then the Bey went down through his vaulted castle     220
to the stable where he kept his white horse.     221
For a lengthy time he busied himself with preparation of the horse.     222
“Go now, my dear, and wake my mother.     223
One does not travel without due leave-taking.”     224
His bride went away and returned with his mother.     225
When his mother entered into the yard,     226
she saw her son waiting there beside the white horse.     227
He kissed his mother’s breasts and said:     228
“My dear mother, bless your son, and forgive him,     229
for I go to join the Emperor’s army.     230
There I shall serve no less than seven years,     231
but then again not more than seven years.”     232
“Then go, my son; may good luck go with you,     233
and may Turks remember where you go and what you do     234
from this day forth unto the Judgment Day,     235
for so long as ever red flowers blossom on the earth.”     236
Then he took leave of his darling wife.     237
Thrusting his right hand into his pocket, he sa[id]:     238
“Here, my darling, I give you fifty duca[ts].     239
If I should perish—God forbid!—     240
these will pay the cost of your remarri[age].”     241
“Say not so, my Bey—I kiss your hand!     242
You owe me nothing either in this world or in the ne[xt].”     243
And so, having said these things, they took leave of one anoth[er].     244
The Bey leapt into his white horse’s sad[dle]     245
and turned him toward the ga-     246
te, where he passed out of the courtyard, my dear brothers.     247
Meanwhile his mother returned into the vaulted cas[tle],     248
and his lady also went her way, weeping as she pass[ed].     249
Riding his white horse, the Bey went on     250
until he reached the lodge of his ancient-bearer, Ibro,     251
whom he wakened while it was still night.     252
“My brother Ibro, dear to me as though you were
    the son of my own mother,    
shall we go together to serve the Emperor’s army?     254
He has summoned us to serve for seven years,     255
and not one day less.”     256
“I would go, my Bey, even if the term of service lasted all my life.”     257
Immediately Ibro saddled his sorrel horse.     258
He too was his mother’s only son     259
and recently wed.     260
So Ibro mounted his horse.     261
His mother attended him as he we[nt],     262
and his lady too tendered him her forgive[ness].     263
He asked Bey Osmanbey:     264
“Now tell me, Bey, in God’s name, where are we goi[ng]?”     265
“Brother Ibro, we must make our way
   to the heart of Imperial Bosni[a],    
to the Imperial city of Travnik     267
and the seat of the Vizier of Bosnia, which is the[re].     268
I mean to let the Vizier muster the army of Bosnia for me.”     269
So, having said these things, they set out on horseback     270
and went their way, reckoning as they went
    the paths and the defiles whereby they travelled.    
But when bright dawn illumined the heavens,     272
they came at length to imperial Travnik     273
and said their matins in its mosque.     274
After they had said their morning prayers     275
the Bey gave the firman to the Vizier.     276
When he had finished reading it, the Vizier said:     277
“Bey Osmanbey, my dear son,     278
I shall require a week and one month     279
to recruit your corps of troops for you.     280
Meanwhile, my son, you may return to your own town of Glasinac.”     281
“No, indeed I may not, old sir, Vizier of Bosnia,     282
for I was only last night mar[ried],     283
and having been with her for but four ho-     284
urs I took leave of my darling wife,     285
swearing to her by the Faith and by holy law     286
that until I am released from service in the Emperor’s ar[my]     287
I shall not return home ag[ain].”     288
“Well then, my son, you are welcome to lodge here with me.”     289
So they took up residence in the Vizier’s guest house     290
while he mustered the men of Bosnia from every part of the province.     291
He issued letters of levy to all Bosnia     293
from Kladuša to Novi Pazar.     292
Thus, day by day, an entire month passed.     294
But when the fifth week came on,     295
the Vizier had assembled the troops,     296
Bosnian cavalry from every region of Bosnia.     297
Their number, I have heard tell, was twelve thousand.     298
Then at last the Vizier went down to the meadowland     299
that lies upon the plain of Travnik and addressed the troops:     300
“Dear children of mine, fighting men of Bosnia!     301
The duty you now assume as you join the Imperial Army corps     302
will be to wage war against the Four Allied Kings;     303
and your term of service, my children, will be seven years.     304
Whoever among you cannot campaign stoutheartedly
   for so long a time,    
let him go home now to his own deme,     306
for the Emperor wants no man mustered shamefully.”     307
But the troops all shouted as with a single voice, telling him:     308
“We have all enlisted of our own volition!”     309
Next the Vizier issued an order commanding     310
the troops to doff their Stambolian clothes,     311
and he gave them other clothes to wear from his own stores.     312
The warriors were commanded to wear red trou[sers]     313
with shirts of white linen     314
and striped gait[ers].     315
But Bey Osmanbey said to him:     316
“I’ll lead no such troops as these!     317
Anyone seeing them     318
would laugh them and me to scorn.     319
They’re as motley as a herd of oxen.”     320
The Vizier of Bosnia laughed at this, and said:     321
“My dear son, you are indeed an innocent.     322
A leader of men you may be, but as yet you are not wise.     323
The foremost power in the universe is the power of Almighty God,     324
and the power of the Emperor of Istanbul is only a little less than that.     325
Were his viziers not traitors all     326
—they who command his army corps—     327
he would not have had to campaign so much as seven weeks,     328
not to speak of seven years.     329
Were you to lead these Bosnians in full kit     330
and dressed in their Stambolian apparel,     331
the traitors in the Emperor’s retinue would say:     332
‘Look at these muddy Bosnian provincials!     333
It seems they are very wealthy;     334
they all look like beys and alaybeys.’     335
And then the Emperor would burden us     336
with even heavier taxes than we already pay.     337
But when, in contrast, you take them down to Hotin looking thus,     338
the traitors will only laugh at the[m],     339
and even the Emperor Suleyman himself
   will be bound to weep for pi[ty]:    
‘Oh my most pitiable Bosnia,     341
are the Imperial taxes so oner[ous],     342
have they reduced you to such penury     343
that you go thus to war, naked to the elem[ents]?’     344
In this way the Emperor will reduce his tax on u[s].”     345
Osman Bey concurred in this stratege[m],     346
and so he and his ancient-bearer Ibro     347
alone retained their Stambolian appar[el],     348
while all the rest wore clothes that made them seem as motley
   as a herd of ox[en].    
But now the time came for the liturgy of benediction to be pronounced
    and for Osman Bey to begin his march, and so he set    
out, leading his Bosnian troo[ps],     351
twelve thousand cavalry in a[ll].     352
Ibro preceded them on his sorrel mount.     353
Now let them go whithersoever they please.     354
[The singer rested.]      
Thus Ibro led the way on his sorrel mount,     355
Scouting the route that they should follow for the safety of the horses.     356
And where did they bivouac for the night?     357
Evening overtook them at Jašina, outside Sarajevo.     358
But when they arrived there, the ancient-bearer Ibro turned and said:     359
“Osman Bey, my young master,     360
I have in former times campaigned with your father     361
—your father, Omer the Alaybey.     362
You are still an innocent, my Bey,     363
being as yet only sixteen years of a[ge];     364
though you are leader of this company, you are not yet wi[se],     365
nor is it seemly that I should advise yo[u].     366
But were it my place to say anything about the mat-     367
ter, I would not have you bivouac he-     368
re. If you do, then tomorrow you shall have to march by way of Saraje-     369
vo. But most of your fighting m-     370
en hail from Sarajevo ci-     371
ty, and as you pass, their mothers will crowd the stre-     372
ets and impede your army’s passage with their weeping.     373
Were it therefore my place to speak,     374
I would have us pass by night through Sarajevo.”     375
“Brother Ibro, this is most excellent wisdom.”     376
So, having said these things, they decided     377
not to bivouac there, my brethren,     378
but to march by night past Sarajevo.     379
Now when the second —, the third -,     381
when the third day dawned     382
after the Bey’s departure from Travnik,     380
then Osman Bey lost his way     383
in a desert place where there was neither house nor homestead     384
where he might ask directions, which way he should march.     385
So Osman Bey halted his troops, and said:     386
“Here’s a consternation for us all, my dear brothers,     387
since we ourselves know not where to turn nor what to do.”     388
As day broke and the sun rose     389
fog hung lay heavy in all the valleys,     390
but then a white horse leapt from out the fog     391
with a man huddled in its saddle.     392
The Bey watched them as they approached.     393
Dear God, who was the man?     394
Let us look closely and say who he is:     395
it was the selfsame postrider     396
who first brought the firman to the castle!     397
For the Emperor Suleyman had said to him:     398
“You are lying! Indeed you have not either gone to Bosni[a]     399
nor presented my firman to the Be[y],     400
else the fighting men of Bosnia would ’ere this have come to m[e].”     401
And then Suleyman the Emperor further said to him:     402
“Unless before tomorrow the Bosnians have co[me],     403
on the morrow I shall have your eyes put out,     404
then have you flayed alive.”     405
So the wretched man had mounted on his most spirited white hor[se]     406
and left Hotin, full of miser[y].     407
But God vouchsafed that he should live to see the Bey again.     408
He spread his arms in gesture of embrace and said:     409
“Oh my Bey, you are welcome to me as is the newborn sun.     410
Had you not risen on my horizon today,     411
tomorrow my precious eyes would have been torn from my head.”     412
Riding toward them and dismounting, he shouted a Turkish greeting,     413
and the Bosnians returned it in kind.     414
Then Osman Bey welcomed him:     415
“Postrider of our worshipful Emperor,     416
which way lies Hotin?”     417
“It is a mere four hours’ riding time from here.”     418
“Let us then be on our way, for as the Sultan has required,     419
here is the Bey, and here are his Bosnians.”     420
Oh, if only we could have been there to see it, brothers,     421
when the liveryman turned his white horse abo[ut]     422
and laid himself along its ma[ne].     423
Never before had it flown so swiftly as it did the[n].     424
In two hours the white mount covered     425
the whole distance of the four hours’ mar[ch].     426
The animal galloped straight to the Emperor’s pavili[on]     427
and fell dead in mid-stri[de],     428
expiring from the exertion of its headlong rush.     429
But the rider felt no pity for the beast,     430
since by its destruction he had saved his own life.     431
Separating himself from the horse where it lay dead, he rose     432
and shouted with all his might:     433
“Now give me my due reward, Emperor Suleyman,     434
for Bosnia has come, and here are the Bosnians!”     435
And lo, the Bey appeared,     436
leading his twelve thousand horse-     437
men. Suleyman the Emperor marvelled to see them,     438
and immediately he gave a word of commmandment:     439
“Make ready a fitting place for Bosnia;     440
station them upon my right toward the rising sun,     441
that I may the better gaze upon them with mine eyes.”     442
Now the number of the Emperor’s viziers, my brothers,
   was three hundred,    
they who were the officers of his arm[y].     444
To them the Emperor gave this word of commandme[nt]:     445
“Attend me, my viziers!     446
When Bey Osmanbey approaches,     447
each of you shall kiss his hand,     448
for verily there is no other bey to equal him in all my Empire.”     449
Now at this very time a man in years could be seen
    going purposefully forth,    
because he happened, my brothers, himself to be a Bosnian.     451
Dear God, who was this senior fellow?     452
He was Mehmed the Priest, one of the Imperial Council,     453
a functionary of Emperor Suleyman,     454
his Chamberlain to wit.     455
As he had watched, a longing after his own people had seized him,     456
and so he went forth now to meet the Bosnians.     457
But when he beheld them with his eyes,     458
Priest Mehmed raised his arms in gesture of embrace and said:     459
“Welcome, my children, fighting men of Bosnia!     460
The Emperor awaits you with the same longing
    as a man sick with rheum awaits the warmth of the sun.”    
Let us therefore see what transpired next, my broth[ers].     462
Ibro was first to meet him, and in greeting hi[m]     463
he leaned forward over his horse’s mane     464
to kiss the priest’s ha[nd].     465
But the venerable Mehmed would not let his hand be kiss[ed],     466
and asked instead after the health of the whole compa[ny].     467
But when they had answered that they were we[ll],     468
“My dear children, warriors of Bosnia all,     469
I too am sprung from Imperial Bosni[a];     470
my native soil is in the town of Bihać
   by the cold waters of the Una River.    
Twenty years I have served the Emperor     472
and not in all that time laid eyes upon another Bosnian,     473
not even once in all of twenty years, my children.     474
I have come forth to meet you in order that I may
    tell you something of the customs here,    
to spare you any loss of dignity or honour.     476
Now, my dear children, warriors of Bosnia all,     477
when you see the government troops,     478
be not intimidated by them,     479
though they are without number and cover all the ground
    to beyond the distance that a man can see.    
The foremost power in the universe is the power of Almighty God,     481
and the power of the Emperor of Istanbul is only a little less than that.     482
My dear son, Bey Osmanbey,     483
the three hundred viziers who have been delegated to receive you     484
are traitors to a man, I swear to thee upon my precious faith.     485
Therefore let none of them kiss your hand.     486
Next, my children, warriors of Bosnia,     487
you will see three hundred Imperial can-     488
non, all trained upon Hoti[n].     489
Do not let them intimidate you.     490
[Pause in recording.]      
My dear children, warriors of Bosnia,     491
give no heed either to the Emperor’s viziers;     492
heed no one else than your own Osman Bey.     493
Next you will see the Emperor’s pavilion,     494
which is fashioned entirely of gold     495
—its peak is all of precious stones—     496
and when it moves, it is drawn neither by horses nor by oxen,     497
but only upon the commandment of Almighty God.     498
Sultan Suleyman presides therein.     499
Do not salute it;     500
since you are led by your own Osman Be[y],     501
the Bey will give your salute for yo[u].”     502
Having said these things, he turned and led the way:     503
“Now, good men of Bosnia—God keep you all!—     504
prepare to gladden the heart of your Emper[or].     505
All of you strike up a song as you go, singing two-by-two;
    let each first pair sing a line and each second pair respo[nd],    
in the selfsame manner as you would sing in a wedding procession.”     507
So the Bosnian warriors began to si-     508
ng as the Emperor’s viziers watched them pass in rev-     509
iew. And as they watched, one would nudge another, say-     510
ing: “Look here at these men from Bosni-     511
a! Does he seriously suppose they will capture Hotin for hi-     512
m? They’re as motley as a herd of oxen.”     513
And so it was true, what the Vizier of Travnik had said:     514
when Sultan Suleyman observed them,     515
he wept great tears and said,     516
“Oh, my most pitiable Bosnia,     517
are the Imperial taxes so onerous     518
That you go to war thus naked to the elements,     519
coming to join my army without proper garb?”     520
So they passed in review before the Emperor’s pavilion.     521
Each man kept his eyes fixed upon his horse’s ma[ne]     522
while the Bey saluted the pavili[on].     523
But when at length Osman Bey halted his troops     524
in the place assigned to them to the right of the Emperor,
    over against the sun at its ris[ing],    
the Imperial viziers came running to meet hi[m]     526
as their worshipful Emperor had command[ed].     527
The Bey would not deign to let them kiss his ha[nd],     528
and exchanged greetings with them in words on[ly].     529
But when all had declared themselves well,     530
four liverymen came forward, saying:     531
“Osman Bey, the Emperor summons you,     532
and we are come to conduct you to his levy.”     533
Instantly Ibro the ancient-bearer’s sword flashed in hand as he replied:     534
“May devils come and conduct you, liverymen of the Emperor!     535
You are no retainers of Bey Osmanbe[y],     536
and therefore, by my faith, neither shall you conduct him anywhe[re].     537
It is rather the ancient-bearer Ibro whom the Bey keeps
    for such work as that,    
and so it is Ibro who will conduct him to the Emperor.”     539
Thereupon Ibro took hold of the Be[y]     540
while the rest of the Bosnians drew their sabres     541
and formed a ring of steel around their Osman Bey.     542
The venerable Mehmed asked them:     543
“What in God’s name is this you do, my children?”     544
“We keep our lord from harm;     545
no one may threaten his life without reckoning with us.”     546
“In God’s name, let be, my children.     547
Did you but perceive what I understand of this matter,     548
you would sing for joy,     549
for even now the sun is about to rise upon Bosnia.”     550
So Ibro took him to the pavilion,     551
and its doors were opened of their own acco[rd],     552
and Osman Bey entered the sanctuary,     553
into the presence of Sultan Suleyman.     554
Innocent that he was     555
—he was only sixteen years of a[ge]—     556
still he did obeisance and spoke a proper Turkish saluta[tion],     557
which the Emperor Suleyman returned in ki[nd].     558
Then he kissed the Emperor’s he[m],     559
and the Emperor stroked the Bey with his ha[nd]:     560
“Courtier of mine, Bey Osmanbey,     561
are you ready to serve God and my firma[n],     562
and me, your Sultan, Emperor Suleyma[n]?”     563
“I am, my Emperor, most gladly.”     564
“So, my dear son, Bey Osmanbe[y],     565
it is now seven years that I have been here.     566
Full seven years have I celebrated Ramazan in this place,     567
campaigning all the while against the Four Kings     568
—but without avail. I swear to thee by both this world and the next,     569
I have not in all this time so much as chipped     570
the wall of bright Hotin,     571
nor yet discovered on which side it has its gate.     572
So it came to pass that I sent you my firman,     573
summoning you to act as my vicegerent;     574
it is my will that you assume supreme command of all my army.     575
I shall meanwhile get me gone to Istanbul.     576
My ardour is spent; I have no zest for yet an eighth year of this war.     577
Until this day your name has been Osman Bey;     578
From this day forth your name shall be Osman Bey Bosnia.”     579
Immediately the Emperor spoke a com[mand]     580
and the Imperial Bursar leapt to his fe[et].     581
He came before the Bey bearing fine raiment     582
that the Bey might dress him in it there in the Emperor’s pavilion,     583
for by commandment of the Emperor he was to doff all his own clothes
    and put on Imperial garb.    
Oh, how marvelous to rela[te]     585
the Bey’s dressing there in the holy pavili[on]!     586
First he put on undergarments and a shi[rt],     587
which they say were of white si[lk].     588
Then, lo, the Imperial Burs[ar]     589
handed him richly broidered trou[sers]     590
with buttons of gold and bosses of silver;     591
the two panels of embroidery reached to his kne[es],     592
one on either side, and diamond-studded piping
   ran along each out-se[am],    
while the knees were capped with golden crescents.     594
Next he gave him a pair of richly worked waistco[ats];     595
the first was azure with a red lining,     596a, 597a
the second was of a dusky hue and lined with green.     596b, 597b
The surface of the outer one was decorated with bosses and loops,     598
while the other one had pockets embroidered with thread of gold.     599
The outer one had panels of golden broidery on the shoulders,     600
and it was tailored with a full sixty vents     601
as befits an Imperial Vizier.     602
Next he gave him a sash-belt     603
nine yards lo[ng]     604
with sixty cadlock blossoms embroidered on i[t];     605
its fastenings were all of gold and silv[er].     606
The belt was for the Bey to wrap about himself     607
from his waist to his left nip[ple].     608
Next he gave him a holster belt with silver fittings,     609
and every third compartment in it was of smelted go[ld];     610
there were in all four and thirty of the[m].     611
Into this belt he thrust four pisto[ls]:     612
one pair Grazian, and the other Venetian.     613
The Grazian pair were made in Graz,     614
[Pause in recording.]      
Oh, the pair of Grazian ones were made in Graz,     615
and the Venetian set was made in far-off Venice,     616
in the bright Venetic country.     617
It had golden hammers and cross-laced butts,     618
and instead of common flints it was armed with precious sto[nes].     619
He set the pistols in his belt with proper space between them
    for his swo[rd],    
and I have heard tell that it was inla[id]:     621
it slept enveloped in gold,     622
and its scabbard was fashioned of ivory.     623
The hilt was cast of silver,     624
and two precious stones were set thereon.     625
The value of the sword alone
    was equal to the price of an Imperial city.    
But compared with what was yet to come
   all this was no more than baubles for some king.    
[Pause in recording.]      
Next he helped him don a tunic with a neck-strap,     628
and the tunic covered the Bey to his waist;     629
it was decorated with four buttons.     630
The first button cost a hundred ducats     631
and was cast of pure gold, my brothers.     632
The second was worth two hundred Hungarian gold coins,     633
and the third, they say, cost all of three hund[red].     634
The fourth had a capacity of half a litre of wi[ne]     635
and was fitted at the warrior’s neck;     636
it cost four hund[red].     637
Thus, when the warrior would journey any-     638
where, and a heroic thirst would oppress     639
him, so that he would long for cool wa-     640
ter, he would have only to tilt the button at his     641
throat to slake the anguish of his     642
thirst. When he drank from it, it turned upon a pi-     643
vot, so that the traveller need not stop to drink from a cup.     644
But compared with what was yet to come, this too were no more
    than a bauble for some king.    
Next, two ensignia were affixed to his breast,     646
showing him to be Emperor Suleyman’s deputy.     647
Then he gave him a fur-lined cap with panaches     648
—it bore thirteen panaches in all,     649
the thirteenth of which had a peacock’s plume fixed in it.     650
Each panache had a mounting of gold.     651
The movement of the peacock’s plume
    set all thirteen of the panaches in motion    
according to the changes of the wind’s direction.     653
Next a turban was wrapped about the cap     654
—the turban alone was worth three hundred pias[ters]—     655
and then a velvet sash atop that,     656
which cost two hundred pieces of Hungarian go[ld],     657
and was such as a true Imperial Vizier would we[ar].     658
Then he helped him to don a great clo[ak]     659
that covered the Bey entirely     660
from his boots to his manly neck.     661
It had diamond-studded piping along both outer seams,     662
all set with precious stones.     663
Golden minarets were broidered the full length of the sleeves     664
and a serpent was depicted on the garment’s yoke,     665
all worked in thread of purest gold,     666
with sixty coils depicted.     667
Its head lay upon the warrior’s shoulder     668
and it held a precious diamond in its mouth.     669
[Pause in recording.]      
Its mouth held a precious diamond,     670
so that when the warrior travelled     671
upon a moonless night,     672
its glow would cast illumination all about the wearer
    to the distance of half an hour’s walk.    
Then Sultan Suleyman said to him:     674
“Vassal of mine, son of Omer Be[y],     675
remain here now beneath Hot[in].     676
Heretofore the high command has been in the hands
    of the Emperor Suley-    
man, but from this day forth it rests with our Osman Bey Bosni[a].     678
Your Emperor returns now to his seat in Istanbul,     679
and you meanwhile remain supreme commander in his ste[ad].     680
Let your Bosnian troops rest for three full mon[ths]     681
and feed them all the while from the Imperial commis[sary],     682
then in the fourth month begin your cam[paign].     683
This thing which I now give you is half of a fir[man],     684
which bears half my golden sealing.     685
The other half I take with me to Istanbul.     686
At such time as you receive my half     687
from me in my capital, Istanbul,     688
you may then return to your own land.”     689
So spake Sultan Suleyman.     690
Forthwith the Emperor commanded     691
that the warriors of Bosnia be uniformed,     692
and so the troops from Bosnia put on     694
the standard uniforms of the Imperial soldiery.     693
Again the Emperor-Sultan said a word,     695
and a golden tent was raised for to be the Bey’s dwelling.     696
It signified that Osman Bey     697
was the worshipful Emperor’s vicegerent.     698
But next the Sultan summoned the whole company of his viziers,     699
who duly foregathered in his golden pavilion.     700
[Pause in recording.]      
Then the Emperor Suleyman spoke ex cathedra:     701
“Hear me, pachas and viziers!     702
I am about to go my way to Istanbul city,     703
and I leave Osman Bey Bosnia in my stead.     704
From this day forth the supreme command
    rests with Osman Bey Bosnia,    
who holds authority over all my army.     706
He is the vicegerent of your worshipful Emperor.”     707
The Sheik-ul-Islam thereupon stood up     708
and immediately pronounced a liturgy of benediction     709
for Osman Bey Bosnia.     710
Then Osman Bey went forth from the holy pavilion,     711
and Ibro met him at the exit.     712
Oh, my brothers, with an adder’s urgent voice he said:     713
“Were I to die this very day, I would be cont[ent],     714
for I have lived to see my Osman Be[y]     715
exalted to seniority greater than any vizi-     716
er’s. My lord, let me kiss your hand!”     717
But the Bey would in no wise accept his adulation.     718
Meanwhile the Bosnians came in a body to take their Bey away,     719
and lifting him on high with their bright arms,     720
they sang this song, my dear broth[ers]:     721
“What we have desired, this day we have gain[ed],     722
our own lord Osman Bey!”     723
All three hundred of the Emperor’s viziers waited on him     725    
as Osman Bey entered into his own tent.     724
Now Kaplen Pasha and Šaranbegović     726
were two nephews of the King of France,     727
and they were officers in the Imperial Army.     728
They proceeded to compose a letter:     729
“O King of France, dear uncle,     730
you dare no longer rely upon our help.     731
Sultan Suleyman is no longer directing the campaign;     732
Osman Bey Bosnia is now the supreme commander.     733
As I consider the matter, it seems to me probable     734
that he will strip us of our powers.     735
Among all three hundred of the Imperial viziers     736
only one has found the Bey to his liking,     737
namely Tartar Pasha from the Empery of the Tart[ars]     738
—from some such place or other, called the Tartar Emp[ery].     739
Meanwhile the holy pavilion has proceeded to Istanbul     740
with Sultan Suleyman therein.”     741
Hardly had the Bey seen the holy pavilion on its way     742
than he began forthwith to act,     743
for he was not the kind of man who would wait three days,     744
not to speak of waiting for three months.     745
First he reviewed the Emperor’s entire army,     746
and young and old alike watched him as he passed amongst them.     747
The traitors complained to everyone who would listen,     748
but the Imperial regulars were heard to say:     749
[The singer rested.]      
“Oh, if only God in His mercy would grant     750
that he might not prove to be a traitor too, like the others!”     751
Meanwhile the Bey asked the Padishah of the Tartars:     752
“What manner of Imperial encampments are these which I see here?”     753
“These are the Emperor’s machine guns, my Bey.     754
Our orders are to assault the enemy’s positions amphibiously,
    by means of pontoons.”    
Bey Osmanbey marvelled to hear it:     756
“O my most pitiable Emperor, what a tribulation
    this war has been for you,    
having to struggle against a king
    who has the river among his defenses!”    
The Bey immediately commanded that     759
the machine guns should commence firing,     760
and so all four-and-twenty of them opened fire,     761
and under cover of their fire the Bey next began to lay pontoons
    across the Hotka Riv[er].    
Thus, using oxhides upon cha[ins],     763
he soon laid a bridge over the Hotka.     764
Not even three hours had passed     765
after his saying farewell to the Emperor     766
before he had set in motion the work of pontoon-laying over the Hotka     767
with floats fashioned from oxhides.     768
So the Bey made his bridge     769
and sent a wave of government troops in an assault across it.     770
It was about midday when he began     771
to cross the bright river Hot[ka],     772
with his troops fairly tumbling across the pontoon brid[ge],     773
and by sundown     774
the Bey had entirely encircled the city of Hot[in].     775
The Four Kings observed all this as it happen-     776
ed. But the Bey had still further actions in mi-     777
nd. Next he command-     778
ed the three Imperial siege-guns to open fi-     779
re, the guns from Bagh-     780
dad, namely The Tunisian, Big Gre-     781
en, and Rusty—they say no other is so large as     782
it. Each of them consumes eight hundred pounds of powder at a shot.     783
But not since the Emperor had first taken the field     784
had they ever even once been fired,     785
for the viziers would not hear of it.     786
Yet the function of these guns was the razing of towers
    and battlements,    
and so, my brothers, when the cannon volleyed,     788
they burst the walls of stony Hotin.     789
The cavalry were instantly able to enter the city     790
twelve abreast.     791
The Four Kings sued for quarter:     792
“Have mercy, Osman Bey Bosnia, thou Turk!     793
Fire no more volleys at us with those cannon;     794
spare the innocent children of the city!     795
Only give us safe conduct,     796
and we shall vacate Hotin of our own accord.     797
Pray let there be no trickery     798
and no surprise attack upon us.”     799
The Bey let no time pass him idly by,     800
but promptly gave them safe conduct     801
along an avenue well guarded by his own Bosnian warriors.     802
The Bosnians were forbidden so much as to stoop
    to pull up blades of grass    
which they might cast upon the foe,     804
much less to discharge firearms at them,     805
for a promise given must be kept firmer than a rock.     806
The whole of that day passed and dark night came on     807
while still the Kings’ army spilled out of the city.     808
But when bright morning dawned     809
Hotin at last stood empty,     810
and the Bey occupied [it].     811
The Emperor had fought there for seven wee—, for seven ye[ars],     812
but the Bey’s siege of it had not lasted even seven hours     813
—indeed they had not so much as fired their small arms     814
before they were able to enter Hotin.     815
Then the Bey established just government in the city     816
and composed a finely written letter to the Sultan:     817
“Emperor, fount of authority, you who warm us like the precious sun,     818
have I now discharged my responsibility?     819
Lo, I have conquered Hotin on your behalf     820
and restored your depot to you,     821
never so much as firing our small arms.     822
May I now dissolve my army?     823
For I would feign go home and caress my darling wi[fe].”     824
Having writ thus, he sent the let[ter],     825
which made its way eventually to Istanbul.     826
The Emperor was gladdened by it immeasurab[ly],     827
and when, my brothers, he had read it through,     828
he wrote another in return to Osman Bey Bosni[a]:     829
“The term of service to which I have summoned you
    is no mere seven ho[urs],    
but rather seven years, my Bey.     831
Not until the other half of my firman reaches you     832
may you return to your homeland.”     833
So the Bey wintered where he was.     834
Autumn passed, and the dead of winter set in.     835
Then the Bosnian troops began to sing:     836
“However shall we survive until summer,     837
when the Bey once again goes campaigning?”     838
And indeed as soon as Flower Sunday came     839
the Bey took the field and marched the army     840
from Hotin to Buyur Kamenica,     841
the place to which the allied kings had withdrawn
    when they evacuated Hotin.    
But when they saw themselves confronted by the power of the Bey,     843
they abandoned Kamenica and left it empty.     844
The Bey was able to occupy it without sustaining any casualties     845
or so much as firing a single small arm.     846
Again he composed a finely writ letter to the Sultan:     847
“I have reconquered Buyur Kamenica.”     848
The Bey wintered there     849
And bestirred himself again early the next summer,     850
advancing upon the city of Herdžogin,     851
for the allied kings had withdrawn to it in their previous retreat.     852
But when they saw themselves confronted by the power of the Bey,     853
they abandoned Herdžogin and left it empty.     854
The Bey was able to occupy it without sustaining any casualties,     855
and again he sent a letter to Sultan Suleyman.     856
He wintered there, my brothers,     857
and bestirred himself again early the next sum[mer],     858
advancing upon Kreš and Pak[reš],     859
for the allied kings had withdrawn thither in their previous retreat.     860
But when they saw themselves confronted by the power of the Be[y],     861
they abandoned Kreš-Pakreš.     862
The Bey was able to occupy it without sustaining any casualties,     863
and he established his own just government therein.     864
He sent word to Emperor Suleyman     865
declaring his whereabouts and announcing in which city
    he had established his headquarters.    
The Bey wintered there     867
and bestirred himself again early the next summer,     868
advancing upon the Empery of the Karavlahs,     869
the Karavlah Empery and Karabogdan.     870
The allied kings had withdrawn thither in their previous retreat,     871
but now they evacuated that place too in the same manner as before.     872
The Bey was able to occupy it without sustaining any casualties,     873
and he established his own just government therein.     874
He wintered there, my dear brothers,     875
and bestirred himself again early the next seas[on],     876
advancing against an offshore island of modest size
    whose coasts were lapped by the azure se[a]    
—an island of modest size, with three and thirty cities situated on it,     878
whither the allied kings had withdrawn in their previous ret[reat].     879
But this place too—called Asia Minor—they also evacuat[ed].     880
The Bey was able to occupy it without sustaining any casual[ties],     881
and he established his own just government there too, my broth[ers].     882
He reported to his worshipful Emperor:     883
“Shall I, my Emperor, soldier on?”     884
And the Emperor returned him answer:     885
“Fight on, my Bey, for yet a seventh year!”     886
The Bey wintered where he was     887
and bestirred himself again early in the summer,     888
advancing against Herdelj in Russia.     889
The Moscow River formed a moat about Herdelj     890
before it flowed into the frigid sea.     891
The Bey immediately commanded     892
that when—, the Imperial machine guns to open fire.     893
Then he laid pontoons across the Moscow River     894
with floats made of oxhides.     895
Thus he quickly constructed a bridge     896
and hurried his regulars across it.     897
At about noon on that very day     898
a firman reached him from the government in Istanbul, say[ing]:     899
“Withdraw the army, Osman Be[y];     900
carry the campaign no farther. You are relieved of your command.”     901
The Bey tore it up and trod it underf[oot],     902
because he would obey no orders until he received
    the other half of the firman he already held,    
as Sultan Suleyman had instructed him to do.     904
And indeed the Emperor had not sent the present firman,     905
which the worshipful Emperor’s mother had forged,     906
for she was sister to the King of Moscovy.     907
She pitied her brother the King of Moscovy,     908
and so had sent the false firman to the Bey.     909
But the Bey destroyed it,     910
ever waiting for the matching half-firman.     911
So that day passed, and soon it was night.     912
Now let us see what the Imperial viziers were about.     913
Osman Bey fell fast asleep,     914
and all the Bosnian warriors slept too.     915
The viziers took it upon themselves to withdraw the regular troops,     916
and they drove away with the cannon and the caissons too.     917
But even that were no more than a royal jest
    compared with what they did next:    
they cut loose the pontoons     919
and destroyed the bridge on the river,     920
cutting off Osman Bey’s only avenue of retreat.     921
Thus Osman Bey remained behind, entrapped     922
with only his twelve thousand Bosnians     923
and his mentor, the Tartars’ Padishah,     924
with his twelve thousand Tartars.     925
When in the morning the Bey arose betimes,     926
there was nothing left for him to do than let big tears
    flow down his cheeks.    
Then he wakened his Bosnian warriors:     928
“God keep you well, my dear brothers.     929
Even were we of a mind to flee, we have nowhere to go,     930
unless we wish to make living sacrifices of ourselves
    by leaping into the river.    
All men naturally fear to die.     932
Whichever among you has that fear today,     933
let him surrender now to the King of Moscovy.     934
I shall think no ill of him for it.”     935
But all of them shouted at once, saying:     936
“Death before surrender!”     937
“Then, my brothers, let us say our adieus to one another.”     938
So the lads embraced each other
    and kissed one another between the eyes,    
for they all understood that the time had come to die.     940
Meanwhile the King of Moscovy opened a window,
    and looking out he asked:    
“Where is the Imperial Army and its batteries?”     942
Forthwith he caused the gateway to be opened     943
and his army surged out through it.     944
“Surrender and live!” commanded the enemy,     945
but to a man the Bosnians replied, “Expect no capitulation from us,
    for there will be none!”    
Bey Osmanbey drew up his sleeves,     947
while his worthy ancient riding before him     948
deliberately lured the enemy’s first fire.     949
The forces of the Four Kings’ league met their attack fiercely.     950
God a’mercy, brothers, it was an uncordial clash     951
in which that small band was blotted out.     952
[Pause in recording.]      
The forces of the Four Kings’ league met their attack fiercely.     953
Mercy on us, Lord, it was an uncordial clash     954
that happened there between those two terrific powers,
    and the blood flowed free    
while the Four Kings kept clamoring     956
“Capitulate, Bey Osmanbey!     957
Capitulate and save yourselves!”     958
But death was the only capitulation they would consent to.     959
And so the fighting raged on     960
until at the onset of the third ho[ur]     961
the old Padishah of the Tartars was slain;     962
he was last of all the Tartars to per[ish].     963
The Bosnians meantime kept up their hewing.     964
By the onset of the fourth hour of combat     965
the whole host of Bosnians had also died,     966
and now none was left save only the ancient Ibro     967
with Bey Osmanbey at his side.     968
Still the voice of Ancient Ibro resonated his determined oath,     969
“No capitulation, Osman Bey     970
—I swear it by my faith—till death!”     971
Then suddenly his Ibro too fell silent.     972
Osman’s glance ran to where he was     973
and alighted on him at the very instant when his ancient     974
Ibro fell dying from off his bay horse.     975
Now only Osman Bey remained alive.     976
The Four Kings shouted a command in unison:     977
“You cannot lay hold of the Bey,     978
snare his horse’s legs instead!”     979
So they cast down nets of finely woven mesh,     980
entangling the legs of the white horse.     981
It fell to earth;     982
but no sooner had Osman Bey gotten clear of it     983
than certain of the enemy sprang upon his back,     984
whilst others of them bound his arms.     985
Then they took him away to Herdelj city.     986
There the Four Kings scrutinized him closely.     987
Finally the King of Moscovy stood before him, saying:     988
“This is the seventh year that you have hounded us.     989
In all this time you have never practiced any vile treachery against us,     990
therefore shall none befall you now.     991
Osman Bey, in yea—, in min—,     992
standing in my courtyard, Osman Bey,     993
hear well what I, the King, shall say:     994
bow down to me; do me obeisance as your sovereign;     995
only kiss my right hand as I extend it to you here.     996
Only this do I require; and having done it, thou art that same instant
    free to get thee home to noble Bosnia.”    
But Osman Bey only laughed and said:     998
“Ask no obeisance of me till I am dead.     999
Do with me what you please.     1000
God having willed it so, you have captured me,     1001
and it seems to me that I have earned
    whatever recompense you choose.”    
The King cast him into irons therefore,     1003
causing cruel fetters to be forged about his ank[les],     1004
chains of steel about his ar[ms],     1005
and a steely shackle round his neck.     1006
Then he shut him in a dungeon ga[ol]     1007
wherein from that day forth for thirteen ye[ars]     1008
no ray of either sun nor moon did ever reach the Be[y],     1009
nor ever did he glimpse good black soil or green grass,     1010
or any living soul who walked the earth.     1011
Thus he lay without reprieve upon the dungeon floor     1012
until the coming of the fourteenth year.     1013
Then a son was born unto the King of Moscovy,     1014
who compacted with King Lehović to be its godfather.     1015
All the way from Nurim in Italia     1016
came Lehović to celebrate the christening.     1017
While the two of them were talking,     1018
Moscovy began to vaunt:     1019
“King Lehović, dear relative,     1020
in my dungeon deep I hold a prison[er],     1021
who is no other than Bey Osmanbey of Glasinac,     1022
Omerbeyson Osman Bey himself.”     1023
King Lehović was so amazed to hear this ne[ws]     1024
he answered in surprise so loudly that the whole room
    reverberated with the sound, my breth[ren]:    
“Dear cousin, King of Mosco[vy],     1026
pray thee give me Osman Bey of Bosni[a]!     1027
When the two emperors made wa[r]     1029
and joined in battle on the Field of Koso[vo],     1028
his father chanced to take my father prison[er]     1030
and caused his eyes to be scooped out while he yet li[ved].     1031
I owe him a debt of vengeance that I fain would pay.”     1032
“By my faith, I will not give him thee.”     1033
“Either give him me, or sell him, Moscovy, I care not which;
    only I must have him,    
else we part friendship, you and I, this very day!”     1035
The King of Moscovy replied:     1036
“Let us not admit between us any breach of amity today.     1037
You in fair exchange will cede to me your pair of doughty cannon,     1038
Big-Bore Blaster and Green Firebox,     1039
that now stand guard defending Lehovo, your capital.”     1040
“That shall I do right willingly!”     1041
Thus they came to terms and signed a treaty
    formalizing their compac[tion].    
“Now bring this man forth to me, who is my mortal ene[my]!”     1043
They led the Bey forth from out the dungeon,     1044
broke off the steel shackles that still held him fa[st],     1045
and bound his arms anew with cordage.     1046
Lehović then cast the prisoner into his ship, saying:     1047
“Osman Bey Bosnia, you venomous snake,     1048
do you perhaps recall the time     1049
when the two emperors made war     1050
and joined in battle on the Field of Kosovo?     1051
Your father chanced at that time to take my father prisoner,     1052
and this was the manner of death that he inflicted on him:     1053
he caused his eyes to be scooped out,
    the both of them, while he yet lived,    
and flayed the skin from off his living body.     1055
As soon as I am come again to stony Leh,     1056
I shall surely pay the debt I owe to you for what your father di[d].”     1057
So Lehović set sail for Italy.     1058
Day by day they travelled on and night by night they rested,     1059
until at length they came to his own la[nd].     1060
There he did not put the Bey in pri[son],     1061
but rather placed him in a well-dight cham[ber]     1062
where he lapped the Bey in deep and soft furnishings     1063
and gratified his every craving     1064
with delicate fresh figs from gardens by the sea
    and sweet confections from the market place;    
and he would serve him lamb’s meat too,     1066
with red and ruddy wine to drink.     1067
Six full months went by in this same way     1068
and a seventh had begun.     1069
Bey Osmanbey thought to himself:     1070
“If still the King intends to kill me, by his hospitality
    he has surely earned that right, and my forgiveness for it too
    in both this world and the next.”    
Then one day the door flew open in the morning     1072
and King Lehović walked in.     1073
He spread his arms     1074
and, running to the Bey, embraced him,     1075
then kissed him too between his raven eyes,     1076
and asked: “How does your uncle, Commander Hasan?     1077
When thou left Glasinac, Bey,     1078
was thy mother still alive?”     1079
The Bey flushed crimson     1081
when he was asked about his mother.     1080
“Well, well, Bey Osmanbe[y];     1082
when, you know, the battle happened on the Field of Koso[vo]     1083
and the two emperors made war,     1084
your father chanced to take my father prisoner.     1085
The Turks caught me as well,     1086
and your father said to them:     1087
‘Give me this foeman,     1088
let me gouge out both his eyes.’     1089
So the Turks gave me to him,     1090
and he took me to his Glasinac.     1091
There your mother fed and cared for me     1092
unceasingly for half a year.     1093
But when the seventh month began,     1094
your father mounted on his horse     1095
and took me up behind him in the saddle.     1096
He wrapped me in a coat of his to ward me from the weather     1097
and carried me home to the seashore.     1098
So time turns, you see, and fortunes change;     1099
I now repay to you the debt I owe.     1100
Choose what you will: stay here with me,     1101
or else go back to noble Bosnia.     1102
One thing only do not do; go not to Istanbul,     1103
where traitors have indicted you.     1104
For when the viziers of the Emperor came home from war,     1105
they brought an accusation ’gainst you,     1106
saying it was you who had capitulated to the King of Moscovy,     1107
and with you all the warriors of Bosnia.”     1108
Osman Bey replied to Lehović:     1109
“It is to Istanbul that I shall go.”     1110
Forthwith the King commanded that a ship be readied     1111
and put Bey Osmanbey aboard it.     1112
So the Bey sailed off to Istanbul,     1113
while Lehović remained in Lehovo.     1114
Day after day they travelled and rested night by night,     1115
till once upon an evening about the midnight hour     1116
the captain brought the ship to rest and said:     1117
“We go no farther, Osman Bey.     1118
The sea from this place forth is closed to traffic.     1119
Here lies the boundary of the Emperor Suleyman’s sovereignty.”     1120
So Osman Bey promptly disembarked,     1121
and the captain brought his ship about and sailed away.     1122
The Bey from where he was could see Stambol in great detail,     1123
for all of Istanbul was radiant with li[ght].     1124
There the Bey awaited the dawning of a new da[y].     1125
When morning came he spied a little boat,     1126
and in the boat an elder of venerable ye[ars]     1127
with beard all white and tattered clothes, an old man
    skiffing in the shal[lows].    
At once he recognized the old priest Meh[med],     1129
the same, my brothers, who had gone forth to meet him     1130
when first the Bey had come to Hotin.     1131
But when Priest Mehmed saw the Bey,     1132
he brought his boat to shore     1133
and, getting out, he greeted him in Turkish wise;     1134
the prisoner all forlorn replied in kind.     1135
When each had asked the other’s health and each said he was well,     1136
“Dear child, go not to Istanbul,     1137
for you cannot so much as enter at the city gate.     1138
Sultan Suleyman does not himself rule there,     1139
but has relinquished his government to Šaranbegović,     1140
and they have banished even me,     1141
old Ćuprilić, from Istanbul     1142
full fourteen year ago.     1143
Go home to your own Bosnia, my son,     1144
lest traitors somehow hear of you     1145
and issue summonses or warrants to your hurt.     1146
Obey no summonses, my son,     1147
except the half of one that matches what you have.”     1148
When they had said these things, they parted company     1149
and Osman Bey set out for Bosnia, his native land.     1150
Day by day he travelled and rested night by night     1151
till time had turned and turned again     1152
and Osman Bey approached Imperial Glasinac,     1153
where he looked down from the surrounding heights
    at his own mansion of enduring masonry    
which he could see, dear brothers,
    from a distance of three hours’ walk.    
There too stood his apple tree with its ruddy fruit     1156
and the spring of water flowing cool beneath it.     1157
The Bey drank of the cool spring water, saying:     1158
“Apple tree of mine with your crimson fruit,     1159
one and twenty years it is     1160
since I last passed this way     1161
and cooled myself beneath your shade.     1162
Formerly, when I was at home in Glasinac,     1163
each Friday after Jumah     1164
I used to ride my horse this way.”     1165
But even as he spoke, somewhere nearby     1166
a blue tongue of gunfire shattered the stillness.     1167
Bey Osmanbey looked about and saw     1168
a troop of men approaching over the field.     1169
A young man mounted on a chestnut horse led all the company,     1170
lapped by the green banner which he bore.     1171
A man of elder years followed after, mounted on a white horse:     1172
Osman quickly recognized in him his uncle, Hasan Alaybey.     1173
The Bey took out a handkerchief     1174
and spread it on the green grass,     1175
because you see, my brothers, he had languished long in gaol,
    a hapless prisoner.    
His raven beard had overgrown his breast,     1177
his hair hung black about his shoulders,     1178
and, turning in upon his palms, his uncut fingernails
    had grown so long he could not close his hand to make a fist.    
The ancient came to where he was     1180
and greeted him, and made his horse to stand, and said:     1181
“Forlorn prisoner, what city are you from?”     1182
“I am, my son, by birth from Kladuša, city of our Emperor.     1183
You perhaps have heard of me, Ali Agha Parmaksuz.     1184
I fought with the Bey at Hotin.”     1185
The young man gave a shout and asked:     1186
“Did you see by any chance what happened to my father,     1187
my father Ancient Ibro?     1188
My mother tells me only this of him:     1189
that he stayed with her for three full weeks,     1190
then of a sudden went to war, campaigning with the Bey.”     1191
“By my precious faith, my son, I swear to you,     1192
I saw with mine own eyes     1193
the very moment when your father lost his life     1194
beneath Herdelj upon the icy Moska River.”     1195
The young man dropped a golden sovereign
    on the outspread handkerchief,    
descended from his chestnut horse beside the apple tree,     1197
and wept, and sobbed, and none could comfort him.     1198
Then Hasan Alaybey rode up,     1199
and greeted him, and said:     1200
“Who are you, estimable prisoner? Whence come you here?”     1201
“I am, old sir, by birth from Kladuša, city of our Emperor.     1202
They call me Ali Agha Parmaksuz.     1203
I fought with the Bey at Hotin.”     1204
Then Hasan Alaybey inquired:     1205
“Did you not see perhaps what happened to my nephew,     1206
my nephew Osman Bey?”     1207
“On my lap and my right knee     1208
your nephew gave up his soul     1209
down in the dungeon of King Moskovich,     1210
and then I cast his body out through an embrasure into the sea below.”     1211
The old man gat him down from off his prauncing horse     1212
and gave the prisoner five hundred cash,
    one for every member of the wedding troop.    
When the bride arrived riding on a white horse,     1214
she too dismounted by the apple tree.     1215
Then she asked Hasan Alaybey’s permission:     1216
“An’ it please you, I would like to talk with this poor prisoner.”     1217
“Speak with him, dear daughter, all you wish.”     1218
She kissed the captive’s hand and said:     1219
“Forlorn prisoner, what city are you from?”     1220
“I am by birth from Kladuša, dear daughter, city of our Emperor.”     1221
“Can you tell me possibly—did you happen not to see—what
    befell my husband’s father,    
father of my husband, Osman Bey?”     1223
The Bey flushed crimson     1224
and his heart stood still,     1225
but he let no tear escape his eye:     1226
“Your husband’s father delivered up his soul     1227
upon my lap and knee     1228
down in the dungeon of the King of Moscovy.”     1229
Sobbing, the girl unclasped the necklace ’round her neck     1230
and dropped it on the cloth before hi[m]:     1232
it was a hundred-ducat stran[d].     1231
Then she cast herself upon the green grass     1233
and begged the earth to swallow up her bod[y],     1234
but said she would thank God for taking of her so[ul],     1235
“Because,” said she, “I am so very wret[ched].”     1236
Then a young man came into view ariding on a raven horse     1237
and leading yet another, chestnut, by its bridle.     1238
But when the chestnut spied the prisoner,     1239
dear God, what an exhibition!     1240
For it recognized its master.     1241
It leapt into the air two spears’ length,     1242
while young Mehmed Bey spoke to it from where he sat the raven:     1243
“Steady, chestnut of my father!”     1244
So the youth rode up and lightly got him down from off the raven,     1245
then he kissed the captive’s hands, first the one and then the other.     1246
“Forlorn prisoner, what city are you from?”     1247
“Dear son, I am by birth from Kladuša.”     1248
“Perhaps you saw what happened to my father,     1249
my father Osman Bey?     1250
My mother tells me only this of him,     1251
that he stayed with her a scant four hours,     1252
then of a sudden went away to serve the Imperial Army.”     1253
“Your father parted from his soul     1254
on my lap and my right knee     1255
down in the dungeon of King Moskovich.”     1256
The young man cast himself upon the green grass and said:     1257
“I pray thee take my soul, dear Go[d],     1258
and take my flesh, dear Earth!”     1259
[The singer rested.]      
Oh, but then the bride announced a race     1260
from underneath the apple tree to the mansion of the Bey.     1261
The horses fairly flew from off the mark,     1262
and all the other wedding guests, my brothers, followed on behind.     1263
Let us meanwhile watch Bey Mehmedbey     1264
and the forlorn prisoner beside the spring.     1265
“Come now,” he said, “and mount my father’s chestnut horse;     1266
come with us to my bright mansion.”     1267
But oh, my brothers, would that we were there to see     1268
how Osman Bey sprang up into the saddle,     1269
and how the chestnut turned its head     1270
to nuzzle ’bout its master’s feet,     1271
and how it sped outrunning all the other horses in the race,     1272
so Osman Bey was first to reach his man[sion].     1273
There he saw his mother waiting at a wind[ow],     1274
sunk in years and bli[nd].     1275
He galloped ’round the mansion shouting in full voi[ce]:     1276
“Wife of Osman Bey, give me the messenger’s reward
    for bringing of glad news:    
here comes your son a-leading of his darling bride!     1278
Give alms moreover to a forlorn captive;     1279
give it for the soul of your Bey Osmanbey.”     1280
A maid came forth from out the mansion     1281
bringing him a gift of bundled linen     1282
and a hundred ducats for the welcome message that he bore.     1283
Then a man relieved him of the chestnut horse     1284
and the Bey was left to sit beside the courtyard gate     1285
until the bride arrived with all the wedding gue[sts].     1286
The horsemen in the race came first, leading in the other gue[sts].     1287
The wedding party all banqueted together,     1288
then one by one each went his way, every man to his own home.     1289
Meantime the Bey bethought him of the captive-prisoner,     1290
the young Bey did, and walked to where the man
    was sitting at the gate, and sa[id]:    
“Come in, prisoner, and welcome to my mansion
    of enduring masonry;    
nor think me not discourteous this night,     1293
distracted as I am by the great sorrow that has seized on me.     1294
I should have counted it a happ’er fate had I been killed,     1295
had I not lived to see this day,     1296
nor learned that I shall never gaze upon my father
    with mine own eyes.”    
And so he led the prisoner within the vaulted mansion.     1298
A ring-dance wonderous to look upon was turning near the hear[th]     1299
with a dozen maidens dancing in i[t],     1300
whilst Osman’s widow sat beside the hearth,     1301
my brothers, poking at the embers as she wept.     1302
Lo, the prisoner begged the lovely maidens’ leave:     1303
“God keep you well, dear daugh[ters]!     1304
Will you let me join your ring     1305
and ease me of an ancient longing?”     1306
They said to him “Come in, old man,
    and dance to your heart’s content.”    
So Osman stepped beside them in the ring,     1308
and guyed the circle as it turned so it came nearer to the hearth,     1309
where he nudged his old dame with his foot.     1310
She cried aloud, and laying hold upon a brand
    from off the hearth, she said:    
“Damn your blackguard honour, forlorn prisoner     1312
who brings me only news of death!     1313
Do you suppose, God punish you,     1314
that I would in any wise consent to sully
    my Bey’s right or reputation?    
No blemish on his memory shall come to him through me,
    not even in my tomb!”    
The young bey quickly took her by the hand and said:     1317
“Dear mother, do not lash him with such unkind wor[ds]     1318
for fear, sweet mum, your recollection of them grieve you later.”     1319
Forthwith he took the captive by the hand     1320
and led him to a well-dight cham[ber]     1321
where he served him supper.     1322
The Bey took his supper with an easy mi[nd],     1323
then took up his cittern, inlaid with mother-of-pearl,     1324
and put it on his lap.     1325
As he picked the strings he sang:     1326
“O cittern of mine with your pearly inlay,     1327
one and twenty years it is     1328
since I last sang with you.     1329
I do not marvel that my uncle Alaybey     1330
did not know me tod[ay];     1331
he has grown old and hard of si[ght].     1332
Nor do I marvel at my own dear mother     1333
who gazed at me from out her wind[ow];     1334
she too has lost her vision     1335
and so could not identify her so[n].     1336
At my son Mehmed Bey I do not marvel,     1337
who could not guess my name tod[ay],     1338
for he has never seen his fath[er].     1339
Nor does my son’s new wife, the maid from Mostar,
    make me marvel,    
nor even my own wife from Tasli[dža]     1341
tending embers by the fire,     1342
for she would scarce remember me     1343
who knew me but four hours.     1344
One thing only makes me marvel:     1345
how my horse knew who I was.”     1346
Osman’s wife was listening while he sang.     1347
She went to fetch her mother:     1348
“Come hear the goodly song     1349
the prisoner is making in the chamber!”     1350
She led her to the chamber door,     1351
then both of them burst in.     1352
They took the cittern from his lap     1353
and heaped themselves upon him.     1354
Young Mehmed Bey as well heard all this happening     1355
and left his newly-wed bride     1356
to leap into his father’s lap     1357
and hug and kiss him endlessly.     1358
Next there came his new-wed daughter,
    and she sat down beside him,    
and finally his uncle, Hasan Alaybey.     1360
So their joyous festivity was twofold,     1361
for both the beys were newly wed,     1362
Oh! both beys were newly wed.     1363
Then they barbered and attended to the prisoner.     1364
Not even a week had passed thereafter     1365
before a firman arrived from Istanbul.     1366
The Bey forthwith destroyed it and ground it underfoot.     1367
During the ensuing time, a year and one month more,     1368
he tore up seven further firmans.     1369
But when the eighth one came, it was the missing half,     1370
and so the Bey made ready for to get him to Stambol,
    for now the time had come.    
His son’s bride had meanwhile borne a son.     1372
Opening her chamber door, he said:     1373
“Dear daughter, since I shall surely perish     1374
when I come to shining Stambol,     1375
let me see your treasure,     1376
the son whom you are tending in the cradle.”     1377
He stroked the baby with his hand     1378
and kissed it ’twixt its raven eyes.     1379
“Fare thee well,” he said, “and mayest thou raise thy son
   to stalwart manhood.    
Please now forgive me for my faults, and let us say goodbye.”     1381
She lamented like the mourning dove.     1382
So he took leave of each and every one.     1383
In the yard he mounted on his chestnut horse,     1384
and then young Mehmed Bey walked out with him
    to see him on his way.    
“Dear son, attend thy mother’s counsel;     1386
she is a woman without equal in all Bosnia.”     1387
Then he threw his arms about his son
    and held him in a close embrace,    
and fondly took his leave.     1389
So Osman Bey went off to Istanbul.     1390
Day by day he travelled and rested night by night.     1391
But when he came to brilliant Istanbul,     1392
the Sultan’s footmen took his horse     1393
and Osman Bey approached the Imperial Doors.     1394
Ćuprilić the Priest was waiting for him at the entrance.     1395
Osman greeted him and stopped to say:     1396
“Guard well the doors, let no one pass; I kiss your hands respectfully.”     1397
Then Osman Bey proceeded to the audience chamber     1398
and, opening the door, went in.     1399
There he found the viziers, all three hundred of them     1400
who had served with him at Hotin.     1401
He bowed and took his place in audience before the court.     1402
The viziers snatched away his half-firman     1403
and passed it to the Sultan, Suleyman.     1404
Suleyman the Emperor uttered a command,     1405
whereupon a pair of executioners entered at the door,     1406
their bodies black, their garments soaked with gore.     1407
They seized Osman by the arms     1408
and led him to the block     1409
where heads of men were wont to roll,     1410
there in the great audience chamber of the worshipful Emperor.     1411
Bey Osman only smiled and said:     1412
“Why now should I regret the losing of my head?     1413
When Sultan Suleyman himself is traitor,     1414
so must all his viziers be.”     1415
The voice of Šaranbegović resounded:     1416
“Cut the head from off his shoulders!”     1417
But Suleyman the Emperor inquired:     1418
“Why say you that the Sultan in Stambol is traitor?”     1419
“For inasmuch as he would have me lose my head     1420
before inquiring anything of m[e].”     1421
“Say on then, how you wi[ll].”     1422
“That man lies who says to thee     1423
that I surrendered to King Moskov[ich].     1424
The traitors in the case are they who left
    me on the field of com[bat],    
and who destroyed the bridge of my retreat.     1426
Thus my whole army perished, Emperor,     1427
together with the Padishah of Tartary     1428
and all his Tartars to a man;     1429
only I was taken captive.     1430
I lay in prison all the while     1431
till Lehović did purchase me.”     1432
Therewith the Bey drew forth a letter of petition     1433
which King Lehović had given him.     1434
“Shouldst thou not trust this writ itself or what it tells,
    or think it forgery,    
see where it bears the seal of Lehović, the King’s own.”     1436
When the Emperor had scrutinized the seal,     1437
he read the letter through,     1438
then summoned Osman to his throne.     1439
“What is it, son, that you would have me do?”     1440
“Emperor, give me thy seal,     1441
and let me rule in Istanbul from now till fall of night.”     1442
So the Emperor gave him the seal     1443
and Osman left the court.     1444
But when he stood outside the chamber, before the Emperor’s Serai,     1445
he summoned up an hundred executioners,     1446
and then commanded on his own authority     1447
that all the pachas and viziers should leave the council chamber.     1448
Each of them, my brothers, on coming forth,     1449
he instantly beheaded.     1450
Thus he cut down all three hundred of the ministers,     1451
save only Šaranbegović     1452
and old man Kaplan Pasha.     1453
Those two he tied instead four ways amongst four horses,     1454
then, driving the animals in four directions,     1455
he tore the two to pieces there in Istanbul.     1456
Until the fall of night he purged Stambol.     1457
“So now, my Emperor, I am avenged.”     1458
“What is it more, my son, that you would have me do?”     1459
“Let sons inherit from their fathers.     1460
Grant Imperial Bosnia your liturgy of benediction     1461
that rye and wheat may flourish there aplenty.     1462
Let me campaign at will     1463
and ask consent of no man.”     1464
All this the Emperor did grant,     1465
and Osman Bey went home.     1466
But first he chose new ministers:     1467
Ćuprilić the Priest to hold prime office next the Emperor,     1468
and after him Lord Mehmed,     1469
who once upon a time, all ragged, had met him in his little boat.     1470
So too the Bey established there in Istanbul     1472
all ministers of other ranks as well, all new,     1471
and then returned to his own province, Imperial Bosnia.     1473
Along the winding road he went until he came to Glasinac,     1474
then straight on to his own mansion and courtyard.     1475
This has been the song of Osman Bey of Bosnia.     1476
All this happened long ago, to be remembered now,     1477
all things that strong men did in that past time.     1478
Let us sing therefore; let us enjoy ourselves.     1479
As I have given you this song,
    may God likewise give you good health.    


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