25. The Effects of Wine

Bekri Mustafe, who lived during the reign of Sultan Selim, was a celebrated drunkard, and perhaps at that time the only drunkard in Turkey. Consequently, he was often the subject of conversation in circles both high and low. It happened that his Majesty the Sultan spoke to Bekri one day, and he asked him what pleasure he found in drinking so much wine. Bekri replied that wine was a godsend to man; that it made the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, and the poor rich, and that he, Bekri, when drunk, could hear, see, and walk like two Bekris. The Sultan, to verify the truth of this statement, sent his servants into the city to bring back four men, the one blind, the other deaf, the third lame, and the fourth poor. When these were brought, his Majesty ordered wine to be served to them in company with Bekri. They had not been drinking long when the deaf man said, “I hear the sound of great rumbling.”

And the blind man replied, “I can see him; it is an enemy who seeks our destruction.”

The lame man asked where he was, saying, “Show him to me, and I will quickly kill him.”

And the poor man called out, “Don’t be afraid to kill him; I’ve got his blood money in my pocket.”

Just then a funeral happened to pass by the Palace buildings, and Bekri got up and ordered the solemn procession to stop. Removing the lid of the coffin, he whispered a few words into the ear of the dead man, and then putting his ear to the dead man’s mouth, gave an exclamation of surprise. He then ordered the funeral to proceed, and returned to the Palace.

The Sultan asked him what he had said to the dead man, and what the dead man replied.

“I simply asked him where he was going and from what he had died, and he replied he was going to Paradise, and that he had died from drinking wine without bread.”

The Sultan understanding what he wanted ordered that a feast should be immediately served.