Keeping Stories Or Promises

During one of the long bus drives in Armenia our Swedish guide told us a wonderful story featuring a caravanserai. It's supposed to be true, although I haven't been able to verify it.

Sophie was the daughter of the German ambassador in the Ottoman Empire. She quickly became a favourite at the royal court, since she learned how to speak Turkish and was very interested in the culture of her new homeland.

Since she didn't go home to Germany during the school holidays, the court tried to find ways to amuse her. They gave her a beautiful horse and taught her how to ride. Once they dressed her up as a boy and organised a small caravan travelling parts of the Silk Road.

One evening, one of the servants was bribed to let thieves into the caravanserai and they took all the horses. Soon after, the other servants woke up and started to search for the horses. The night was very dark and although they searched high and low, the horses could not be found. However, they kept on looking since they knew there was no way they could go back to the Sultan and tell him his precious gift was gone. Suddenly they heard the horses far away in the dark and managed to take them back to the serai.
From Caucasus Highlights 2015
During the trip, the caravan came across a family of storytellers. Sophie listened keenly. One night the storyteller said he was tired and asked her to tell a story. She did it and did it very well indeed. He said she could become a "licensed" storyteller, if she promised to never write the stories down.

She almost kept her promise. When she was in her 80ies, the world had changed. The Ottoman Empire was no more and neither storytellers nor caravans could be found. She was afraid that all the wonderful tales she had been taught would be lost, why she started to write them down. The manuscripts are now in a museum in Istanbul.

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