0Sunday. 6th [May 1877]—Constantinople
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6 May 1877 — Constantinople
Sunday. 6th [May 1877]. Went to church with Mrs Baring. After lunch Henry & I drove to the Bosphorus & embarked in the 6 oared caique & rowed to Hyssar to see Ahmet Vefik. The weather was overcase & as soon as we landed it began to rain. We had to climb up the hill to get to his house wh is a tiny red cottage attached to the old tower of the early Turkish castle. It is a very small place. After sitting talking with him coffee was brought & chibouques– In a short time Vefik offered to take me into the harem to see his wife and daughters. His wife is a tremendously stout ugly poxmarked woman & was dressed in the turkish fashion with a garment with a long square from behind. It was a kind of lavender coloured cotton matelassé– She had a kind of under vest & loose jacket of the same. Two married daughters were there, the eldest in a many coloured striped Brusa silk, the younger wore a splendid violet velvet embroidered at the hem with gold flowers & she wore a grey silk fur lined pelisse. The youngest & only unmarried was very good looking & wore a kind of Persian striped silk turned up with dark blue. They all wore black muslin handkerchiefs tied round their heads nearly hiding all their hair. These were painted with coloured flowers—but the effect was poor & incongruous with these dresses. A sister of Vefiks came in afterwards & she was dressed in a quilted fawn coloured satin. His son served as interpreter & spoke French well. The married daughters had once known French but had quite forgotten how to speak tho’ they seemed now & then to understand what was said. Whenever Ahmet Vefik came into the room all the women stood up with folded hands & the son also retired into the furthest corner in a respectful attitude. They showed me their work. Linen embroidered on linen & the youngest girl said she read a good deal. The eldest daughter had her little girl of 11 there. She was dressed in a bright canary coloured cotton with a black pattern. A skirt down to the ground & a loose jacket. Her head tied up in the invariable handkerchief & her hair hanging down in 2 plaits fastened together at the top by a huge brooch with diamonds badly set in the worst French style. The second daughter had a little girl of 2 who toddled about in a bright blue frock down to her toes & was allowed to run in & out of the mens apartments. The ladies gave me sweets & water to drink after it. After taking leave of them we went to walk with Vefik in the garden & took tea in his library wh he has built there away from the house for fear of fire. I sat on a divan on the floor—but there were chairs for those who chose. Abt 5.30 we left him & returned to the caïque to go home. Had the Embassy except Mr Baring who was ill, the messenger Capt. Player, Mr Marinitch & Dr Dickson.

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