Many know me as a public figure, an auto expert, a journalist, a participant in television and radio programs. Today I am opening up for you on a newer side, as a writer. Possessing a huge amount of information, historical facts, I do not use them in full, except that I sometimes quote the classics in speeches before citizens, on television, radio, etc. Only a few of my close associates know my hobby — to write stories and novels. I write in the new, and more correctly, in a transformed style of an active story based on a real story or a little-known historical fact. I try to describe the events in an exciting manner from the first lines of the narrative. I would call my style a story-track or a story-composition.
I have long wondered why we listen to the song we liked a few times in a row. Why does not it bother us?
And all because a good song every time gives us a feeling of familiar novelty.
Have you re-read a story or a story for a long time?
In my opinion, an interesting and intelligent book should be read several times in a row, fueled by emotions and getting a charge of energy. I hope that this my story «The Gardener» will take a place in your library and will be among the books that will want to reread, reside and empathize with its heroes.
I specially designate and describe my characters with special touches, and already you, my dear reader, visualize the image of the hero and imagine exactly how it looks. I give a guide, and already the integrity of the picture is formed in everyone’s own, according to your imagination.
In my works, I do not claim 100% historical certainty, but only try to reconstruct events, and I myself live with my characters specific life situations.
I specially write compact, but capacious stories. My goal is to make them dynamic, easy to read and kept in suspense until the very last line. The ending of most of the works will surprise you.
I purposefully try to include in my stories a maximum of facts, so that you can add to the baggage of your knowledge, for knowledge, like health, is never superfluous.
I do not cunning, saying that my stories have a good therapeutic effect, in order to tap into those parts of the brain that are responsible for the flexibility of thought. Checked experimentally: I want to reread my works, and they give a charge of mental activity.
In my opinion, these stories are ideal for preparing a script and shooting an exciting movie. If among the readers there is a knowledgeable person, I will be glad to cooperate.
In the story there is a special terminology of that time, of that era, and at the end of the book in the Notes section, detailed explanations are given so that you can more fully understand the details of the narrative.
In my table there is a large number of similar works of various themes: from serfdom to World War II and the modern era. All of them are planned for publication, as they are ready for printing.
I will be glad if you liked my book, and you have spent your time and have learned a lot of new things.
With sincere respect for you, my dear readers!
Yours, Konstantin Krokhmal.
Announcement of the book
One is the gardener, the other is the Vizier. The capricious will of the Great Sultan reduces them one by one, and they begin a deadly race for survival. Who of them is a hunter, and who is a victim, will decide Fate. All this happens under the unflinching gaze of the Lord of the Osman and thousands of secret spectators.
Who will win? A human machine trained to kill, or a civil servant who has passed through all circles of hell, who has many years of experience of survival in difficult situations behind his back?
The result of the duel you will learn, after reading my new book «The Gardener», which is based on real historical events.
I wish you a successful hunt!
Konstantin Krokhmal, the author.
(Based on real events)
Semi-bent scissors, which resembled two medium sized knives, fastened in the middle, slowly stuck into the green flesh of a plant with triangular sharp spikes. A long stalk cut off at an angle, with a huge half-blown scarlet bud, fell into an outstretched broad palm in a worn leather glove. Picked up like a real juggler, the flower, turning in the palm of his hand, smoothly moved into a nearby bronze jug, almost completely filled with the same red roses.
— Here they are, beauties, exactly 41 pieces, — the man with a strong look whispered softly in a velvety voice and, looking up, looked at the dome, which was painted in a bright red color, with a burning crescent moon peeping out from the high, flat wall that had been recently painted in White color.
The Sultan’s Topkapi Palace1 in Istanbul met the next dawn.
— Today is a great day, today is the birthday of the Lord, may Allah keep his soul! — he already spoke louder, taking off his gloves and neatly laying the scissors in a small wooden box with a wide leather belt.
Then the man looked cautiously around, as if frightened of someone.
But there was not a soul around. In Harem, located in a special building, the entrance to which was at the end of the second courtyard of the richly decorated «Gate of Happiness»2, woke up late, despite the huge number of women. It was the most inaccessible yard for strangers. To see even one of the many concubines was deadly dangerous. Any outsider, who even glanced at the Sultan’s concubine with one eye, was executed on the spot.
The gardener hurriedly hung the belt with a drawer over his shoulder, took a jug of roses with both hands and headed for the exit from the garden. He carefully concealed from his outsiders his secret that, despite the strict prohibition, he was very fond of talking. Yes, it’s hard to believe that life in such a luxurious palace could be very heavy and gloomy. Even the great Sultan Selim the Terrible3 was compelled to obey the ancient custom and speak extremely seldom, since verbosity was considered very indecent, and for communication a special form of language was introduced-the system of nods and gestures. So it was established long ago, and the ruler of a huge empire was forced to spend most of his time in complete silence. He repeatedly tried to abolish this restriction, but his viziers flatly refused to lift the ban on conversations, arguing the inviolability of the canons established earlier.
Maybe because of this, the ruler of the Ottomans felt a vicious disgust towards the Viziers.
It was difficult for Sultan to talk even to himself, since he almost never remained alone. When he walks through the palace, dozens of people accompany him; When dressed, he is watched by numerous guards; When he is sleeping, the guards are standing next to him. This is loneliness under the watchful eye of servants and guards.
One consoled him: he had complete control over the life and death of his subjects, and he enjoyed it without a drop of embarrassment.
The gardener’s eerie hearing caught a quiet rustle that was heard from the opposite side of the garden adjoining the tallest building of the palace with a high tower-the Sultan’s chambers. He stopped, quietly put a vase of flowers on the ground, next to it — a box of tools and, taking a few steps back, hid between tall bushes. A minute later, a silhouette appeared on the path, which moved quickly along the well-groomed path. But when he saw the vase standing in the middle, the stranger stopped and slowly bent down to her, inhaling the wonderful fragrance of freshly cut flowers.
The gardener sprang lightly from behind the bush and, finding himself behind the stranger, grabbed his left hand by his forehead, and the right put a sharp blade to the unprotected throat.
— Stop, stop! — wheezed, the stranger begged. — It’s me, Fatih, with a letter from our master!
For a moment the gardener froze and slowly withdrew the blade from his throat. On the neck remained a thin red line from the point of the knife. Fatih jumped from him and, rubbing his neck with his hands, spoke:
— How much I serve in the palace, I just can not get used to your tricks.
He quickly rubbed his throat, then cleared his throat and continued:
— I have an assignment from the Lord.
And slowly, pulling from under the floor a long embroidered gold coats wrapped in a tube paper, gave it to the gardener.
The gardener examined the scroll from all sides, then brought it closer to his eyes and examined in detail the small seal with the initials of the Sultan. Convinced that she was untouched, with the usual gesture of her thumb, she snapped it with a soft snap.
Opening it, he carefully read the message. Slowly and almost without interest, he tightly wrapped the sheet and hurriedly put it in the inner pocket of his robe.
Fatih, slightly bent, looked with interest at the Gardener’s face, trying to guess the contents of the scroll.
— Tell the Master that his will will be done, — the Gardener said indifferently, looking steadily at the visitor. He knew perfectly well that by the expression of his face one can guess what is contained in the letter, that’s why he learned to hide his emotions from strangers.
vYou’re free, — he said imperiously.
Fatih shuddered, bowed slightly, backed away and, smoothly turning, disappeared behind the trees.
«So tomorrow, Run,» thought the Gardener, and mechanically touched the robe in the place where the scroll was. — This will be another routine work, which was a lot for my life at the palace.»
He stretched himself out and, spreading his broad shoulders, spread his hands to the sides. There was a characteristic crunch of joints that yearned for physical exertion.
The gardener took a box of tools, then looked at the jug with freshly cut scarlet roses, which could be seen behind the bush.
«The servant will take the roses, and it’s time for me to prepare,» he said softly, and, clicking his phalanges of fingers, headed for the inconspicuous door in the wall between the towers of Baba Salam4. Behind this door there was a special room, in which only he and his assistants could come.
The gardener was always ready for this letter, he knew perfectly well what Sultana needed not for courting flowers, but for performing special assignments.
He was the Executioner5.
Only he was trusted to execute the objectionable and unquestioningly carry out assignments. When he was ordered, he did not think. He was killing.
Yes, the palace had its own rules, even for execution. The executioner had no right to kill with blood the tall faces, relatives of the Lord, so they should be strangled with a special ritual silk cord. The Sultan did not like blood, especially when he saw her at his relatives.
Unlike the Sultan’s family, the rest, any people disliked by the Sultan, including influential viziers, the gardener could kill at his own discretion. And then the blood flowed like a river…
Yes, he was an executioner, he killed those whom the Lord ordered to kill. And the garden was a compensation for these monstrous errands, and for all he was a simple gardener and looked after the flowers.
This took a long time, and then a custom appeared, when the condemned Master to death could escape his fate by defeating the chief gardener in the race through the palace gardens. The Vizier was summoned to a meeting with the chief gardener and after an exchange of greetings he was given a cup of frozen sweet sorbet.
If the sherbet was white, the Sultan granted the vizier a reprieve, and he had a month to rectify the situation. And if the sherbet was red, then the vizier should be immediately executed. And this was already done by the gardener. As soon as the condemned to execution saw the red sherbet, he had to take a sip and immediately run through the palace garden between the shady cypress and the rows of tulips. The main goal was to get to the gate on the other side of the garden that led to the fish market. And if he could run and pass through them, then all his sins were forgiven him. He again became a great vizier with unlimited powers.
Yes, it is difficult to imagine that the Topkapi Palace, in which petitioners from all over the world were received, was a terrible and terrifying place. In the main courtyard at the entrance to the palace, specially made two columns, on which the severed heads of people disobeyed or infidel Sultan were placed. During the periodic purges of the palace, from the unwanted or guilty in the courtyard, entire mounds were built from the languages of the victims. The gardener knew all this and remembered that sooner or later the purge would begin.
In the corner of the garden there was a special fountain6, with sparkling spring water. But everyone in the palace knew that it was forbidden to drink or wash hands in it. This fountain was made exclusively for the executioners, so that they could wash their hands and arms after the punishment procedure.
A small, bone-bound, heavy door opened noiselessly, and the Gardener, stepping over the high threshold, stepped inside. It was a large and spacious room, well lit by square windows. They were located high under the vaulted ceiling, painted in white, and therefore the room was surprisingly light. On the walls hung various devices, at first glance, not at all terrible. But only the executioner knew that the most familiar things can serve as an excellent weapon for killing unwanted Sultans.
The gardener closed the door on the bolt and walked confidently toward the shelving with tools.
— Tomorrow is an important day, and I need to prepare some tricky traps, — he whispered softly and began to make intricate things.
The executioner sincerely did not want anyone to reach the market gate and escape the just punishment of the Sultan.
He was not told who would run, but he knew exactly how to kill him. The executioner was allowed to kill the blood of all subjects, except for the relatives of the Sultan, they were to be executed only in one way — strangulation. Why is it so? The gardener knew the answer: because this type of execution since ancient times is considered shameful. The cruelest punishment for a person is not physical death, it was more terrible that when strangled, the soul can not leave the body, as if remaining in prison. In the people of such dead were called «hostages». The executioner knew, like no one else, that to die from suffocation was painful and painful. Death does not come instantly, and the convicted person remains conscious for a few seconds. In these instants he understands the approach of his end and experiences unbearable physical suffering, which ends in a terrible agony. At the same time, he was watched not only by the Sultan, but also by hundreds of spectators.
Such punishment was considered an impure death. Often at the time of strangulation, all the muscles in the body relaxed, and this led to complete emptying of the intestine and bladder, so that even after the execution the humiliation continued.
Whether it was a decapitation with an ax or ax, which was considered a quick and less painful death. Such a death allowed to avoid public agony, which was important representatives of noble blood. The crowd of spectators, eager for spectacles, should not have seen low dying manifestations. It was believed that only a strong and courageous warrior was prepared precisely for the death of cold weapons. When the condemned put his head on the block, he showed humility and resignedly accepted punishment. But all the same the main thing depended on the ability of the executioner. Often the convict himself or his relatives paid a lot of money to do his work with one blow, and death was quick and saved from violent torment. The gardener quickly enforced the sentence. The condemned man laid his head on a log, the thickness of which was to be no more than six inches7, which was ideally suited to the head of a man. A swing with an ax, a blow-that’s all.
Tomorrow’s fugitive was not Sultan’s blood, but he was very noble — it was the Vizier, the right hand of the Lord, whom he trusted as to himself. But something happened, and the Sultan suddenly began another purge of his associates, justifying his name — Selim the Terrible. Most likely, this was implicated in the heir Mustafa8, the closest pretender to the throne.
Such cruelty justified itself, because in the Ottoman Empire there were no bloody wars because of the throne, unlike Europe. The recent French Revolution9, which began with the murder in prison of the 10-year-old son of the last French King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, did not have time to start, quickly drowned in the blood of their own leaders.
The gardener looked at the wall, lined with huge roughly chipped pieces of limestone. Behind this place was a fenced part of the palace, which was called Cafe10. It was a «golden» cage where Sultan’s relatives lived, whom he had not yet killed11. He kept them next to him, allowing him to enjoy almost all the blessings of the palace in order to fully control their lives. Mustafa was in this cage and, most likely, became a bargaining chip in a never-ending backstage game.
Selim the Terrible knew how to overtake the fear of his courtiers: during his reign, so many great Viziers were executed, that they began to carry their wills with them.
The gardener took a scroll out of his robe pocket and put it in a large box filled to the top with the same orders. After a moment’s thought, he said calmly:
— Tomorrow I need to show a good performance, because the audience will be enough. But the most important spectator is, of course, he is the Great Sultan.
The morning turned out to be extremely cloudy. The sky was clouded by gray clouds that almost did not let in the sunlight, and the bright garden looked monotonous.
There was no one in the garden, but this does not mean that no one was following the upcoming action. On the highest balcony was located Sultan with the approximate, and a little lower on the terraces and from the open windows observed the rest.
The gardener was sitting in a luxurious gazebo on a dark green trestle. To his right was a closed vessel with a sherbet. Unlike the Vizier, to whom this message was intended, the executioner knew the color of the delicacy.
Behind the bushes appeared a recognizable silhouette in a bright robe, and it became clear that it was Khachi Salih Pasha. He cautiously, almost silently crossed the threshold, slightly bending his head, and slowly approached the Gardener.
Gazing furtively from under his brows, he asked quietly:
— Do you have something for me?
— Yes, sweet sherbet, a gift from our Great Sultan, he is no longer angry with you, — the Gardener replied monotonously and nodded at the jug.
The Vizier slowly bent down and took a trembling left hand by the handle of the vessel, then, stepping back three steps, quickly lifted the lid. Moments were enough to understand that he was sentenced to death, and a second later the jug was already flying into the head of the Gardener.
The gardener was always ready for any surprises, but what happened did not fit into any framework and was with him for the first time in many years of practice.
Hardly veering away from a ten kilogram heavy heavy weapon, he leaned back and felt the edge of the handle crash into his cheek, tearing it apart like a linen sheet. The blood spurted, the bay in red, the white caftan of the gardener. The jug cracked the openwork wall of the gazebo with a crash and fell to the flower bed with white tulips, which immediately turned red.
The gardener looked dumbfounded through the blood-stained face to the bright figure disappearing among the bushes. Sharply jumping up from the trestle, he, was, rushed into the chase, but stopped, tore a long flap from his sleeve and bandaged his head, pressing a dense cloth bleeding cheek. «He won time, good move! — flashed through his head. «We must hurry, because the garden is not infinite, but I know it better.» And turning, he cautiously climbed through the pit hole pierced and disappeared among the branches of the cypress.