The Ottoman Princess

So my great grandmother met my great grandfather in Istanbul. She was Ottoman nobility and he was Ottoman officer. While I was growing up they used to tell me I look exactly like her and I have her mannerisms. So obviously, on a snowy Christmasy evening, right after I submit my grades and call it a semester, I tell her story.

They say when my great grandfather brought her from Istanbul to Lebanon, it was a spectacle. She entered town with carriages of gold and a fleet of men and horses.

Right after she settled into her new home, my great grandfather completely cut her off from her family in Istanbul. He prevented her from contacting, visiting, or even mentioning their names in his presence. That broke her heart. She pleaded with him to allow her contact but his heart was cold and his mind was set and rigid. She slowly started fading away, until she died during the birth of her second child. The women who were present during that birth said she could’ve survived, but didn’t want to. She wanted away.

My great grandfather, her husband, the Ottoman officer, was one time riding alone somewhere in the wilderness between Lebanon and Turkey. It was very late at night, very dark, very foggy, and very cold. He noticed a distant silhouette and as he got closer he realized it was a woman, alone, with a long white veil. She asked him for a ride to the nearest town. My great grandfather, enamored by her stunning face and captivated by her complete vulnerability, against his best judgment, and against all the suspicious voices telling him not to help a vulnerable stunning woman in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the night, allowed her to ride on his horse.

She held onto him, and said, “I ask you for one thing, as we ride, no matter what happens, do not look back.”

He thought her request was strange, and kept riding into the night, the wilderness, the fog and the cold.

Soon afterwards, the horse started slowing down. The horse kept slowing more and more. She said do not look back. The horse slowed. Do not look back. Now the horse was so slow, so heavy, could barely move. Do not look back.

Then my great grandfather looked back. He saw what he saw. She was there, with him, on the horse, holding to his back. Her feet, on the other hand, where still right where he picked her up, and her legs, all the way in between.

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