Conditions of Use
Off to Istanbul
In 1684, the Ottoman siege of Vienna failed, but it left damage to many families and of course, also to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Young Maria Tankenstein had her brother and mom kidnapped but her dad had convinced her to go and rescue them. The Ottomans were just outside Vienna and this made it hard to get anywhere. So, one night with nothing more than a loaf of bread and a water bottle Maria set out on a journey.
She was accompanied by her dog Tim. Tim was a small dog whose fur was all white and curly. He was quite smart and very playful. She was also followed by a young man, Heinrich, he was 23 years old. He had a strong character and was very intelligent. He brought Maria across road, after road, after road. Maria felt very cold because it was a fall night. After a few hours Heinrich stops and unloads a backpack (that Maria had not noticed) and pulls out a tent and inquires: “Do you know how to put up a tent? Maria nods her head. Then he adds: “Please set it up. In the meantime I will see if there’s any game here.”
After some time he came back with a rabbit, but Maria would never know because she was kidnapped during his absence. The next morning she woke up…in a cell and she saw a man who called: “She’s awake!!!”
In her cell she saw a small cage. It had the size of a common cardboard box and in it she saw a creature that was dirty, then she realized that it was her dog Tim. She got up and went close to Tim’s cage and whispered: “Oh, you poor thing, don’t worry we will get out of here Tim.”
Then, suddenly and old man came. He had a moustache that was black and his hair was grey. He had an evil smile and very thick eyebrows. Maria could know that he was very serious. Then he said: “I knew the dog was yours. Don’t worry he’ll see you at the funeral. Muhahhhaaaa.”
Then, he went away and a soldier walked by, stopped and said: your dog will need this and he handed her a bowl filled with water.
She replied: “Thanks a lot!”
He said (with a smile): “You are welcome.”
The man left and Maria gave Tim the water even though she was very thirsty herself.
After a while she saw the same soldier that she had seen that morning and in a split second more thoughts went through her head than ever before in her life. Should she ask the soldier something? What should she ask about? Should she ask him if he could help her escape? If she does not ask maybe she will get executed? Should she ask about her mom and Friedrich? She hesitated for a second and then finally asked the soldier: “What’s your name?” The man answers with a lag: “Khaled” and walks away.
There she begins to cogitate. Should she try running away? She was quite desperate but then remembered that she needed to be strong because she had to save her mom and her brothers. She felt very confused and at that moment she saw Khaled walking by. She frightfully asked him: “Do you know Friedrich Tankenstein?” Hesitantly Khaled replied: “Yes, but he is in Damascus.”
Maria said: “Can you help me to get to Damascus?”
Khaled: “Yes, I can help you to get there tomorrow. Tomorrow is my day off and I can go and copy the key. I will give you the key on Monday.” Then Khaled walked away. Maria began to ponder, she petted her dog and fell asleep. Shortly after she woke up the next morning Khaled walked by and gave her the key and a paper. The paper said: “Take a horse from the hut.”
That night she felt sad and scared and she had to think of her house in Vienna and the wonderful cake that she used to eat there. When she got out of the cell she fearfully ran down the hallway and went to the hut where she was told to go and get the horse. As she arrived at the hut she found a small horse. Its color was black so it could camouflage well in the dark. She remembered that her family was held in Damascus and as soon as she arrived…. she was chased by soldiers. She ran down a small road that split. She took the left split but quickly noticed a soldier on patrol coming towards her. She was looking around desperately and then she saw a person making her a sign to come in. Having no other choice she ran into the building. The person was an old woman with gray hair. She said: “Hello, you look like you are from Europe.”
“Yes.” Answered Maria “I am from Austria-Hungaria.”
The old Lady: “Well, then you are quite far away from home. What brings you here?”
Maria: “My mom and my brother were captured and my dad has a broken leg.”
The old Lady: “Is the little boy named Friedrich?”
Maria: “Yes. Did you see him?”
The old Lady: “Yes. He left this morning for Beirut, Lebanon, not so far from here.”
Maria: “I don’t mean to be rude since you were already so kind to let me into your house, but do you think that you could help me to get to Beirut?”
The old Lady: “Yes, but first you should eat something.”
As soon as dinner was ready she remembered how long it was since she last ate something for dinner. She had grilled lamb balls (Kebbeh) and chickpea paste (hummus). After dinner Maria fell asleep on the couch. She was just too exhausted. The next morning the old lady said: “Good morning Maria!”
Maria replied: “Good morning. Where am I? In Beirut?”
The old Lady: “Yes.”
And at the same moment Maria heard Friedrich’s voice coming from another room.
She thanked the old lady and invited her to her family’s house in Vienna. Telling her that the family cook makes the most amazing cakes she ever ate.
Friedrich heard Maria’s voice too, he kicked the guards and cursed at them. The without thinking he shouted: “MOM.” Maria felt so relieved that her relatives were unharmed.
Next to the guards stood the general, he pointed at Maria and shrieked: “yalaweh!!!!” Then he fainted. The guards ran to the general’s rescue and Friedrich and his mom ran to Maria. “We need to get to Cyprus” said Maria. “I know. We could climb on a ship.” said Friedrich. “What ship?” inquired Maria sarcastically.
“Beirut to Athens. Only 5 Xs (X represents the currency at the Ottoman time) yelled the captain of a ship in the port of Beirut. Maria announced happily that she had enough money for all three of them to take the ship. Maria had some local currency left over and her mom claimed that this money would be useless in Athens. Maria thought that the captain of the boat might be willing to trade the currency for some of Athens’ currency. Maria walked up the boat that was made of finely polished cedar wood to talk to the captain. When she reached him she said: “Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but could you trade my Xs for some of Athens’ currency?” “No but for the amount you have I could give you a fish.” replied the captain.
“Sure.” Said Maria and she happily returned to the other with a fish in her hands.
“This will be our dinner” said Maria. That night everyone had fish and slept peacefully through the night. The next morning right after Maria woke up she yelled: “We are trapped=http://!!!!”
“Why do you say this?” asked Friedrich.
“Without money and with nothing to trade, we have no way to get to Venice let alone Vienna, and NO, I am not selling Tim!!!!” exclaimed Maria.
“Is this Heinrich?” asked Maria’s mom as she saw a man walk by. And yes, it was Heinrich who offered to get the three to Vienna.
Two months later in Vienna.
“Sir, there are two guests at the door. One is an old Lady and the other one is a young man named Khaled.” Said the butler of Maria’s father.
“Let them come in!!!” exclaimed Maria full of joy.
Article posted January 29, 2009 at 02:20 AM •
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