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List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
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rapidly perused it; his lips trembled, his eyebrows met in a terrible
frown, the muscles of his forehead contracted alarmingly.  He vainly
endeavoured to smile and to look as if nothing had happened, his
agitation betrayed him, and he was obliged to retire, after desiring
a herald to announce that he wished the banquet to continue.

Now for the subject of the message, and the cause of the dismay it


Ali had long cherished a violent passion for Zobeide, the wife of his
son Veli Pacha: Having vainly attempted to gratify it after his son's
departure, and being indignantly repulsed, he had recourse to drugs,
and the unhappy Zobeide remained in ignorance of her misfortune until
she found she was pregnant.  Then, half-avowals from her women,
compelled to obey the pacha from fear of death, mixed with confused
memories of her own, revealed the whole terrible truth.  Not knowing
in her despair which way to turn, she wrote to Ali, entreating him to
visit the harem.  As head of the family, he had a right to enter,
being supposed responsible for the conduct of his sons' families, no-
law-giver having hitherto contemplated the possibility of so
disgraceful a crime.  When he appeared, Zobeide flung herself at his
feet, speechless with grief.  Ali acknowledged his guilt, pleaded the
violence of his passion, wept with his victim, and entreating her to
control herself and keep silence, promised that all should be made
right. Neither the prayers nor tears of Zobeide could induce him to
give up the intention of effacing the traces of his first crime by a
second even more horrible.

But the story was already whispered abroad, and Pacho Bey learnt all
its details from the spies he kept in Janina.  Delighted at the
prospect of avenging himself on the father, he hastened with his news
to the son.  Veli Pacha, furious, vowed vengeance, and demanded Pacho
Bey's help, which was readily promised.  But Ali had been warned, and
was not a man to be taken unawares.  Pacho Bey, whom Veli had just
promoted to the office of sword-bearer, was attacked in broad
daylight by six emissaries sent from Janina.  He obtained timely
help, however, and five of the assassins, taken red-handed, were at
once hung without ceremony in the market-place.  The sixth was the
messenger whose arrival with the news had caused such dismay at Ali's

As Ali reflected how the storm he had raised could best be laid, he
was informed that the ruler of the marriage feast sent by Moustai,
Pacha of Scodra, to receive the young bride who should reign in his
harem, had just arrived in the plain of Janina.  He was Yussuf Bey of
the Delres, an old enemy of Ali's, and had encamped with his escort
of eight hundred warriors at the foot of Tomoros of Dodona.  Dreading
some treachery, he absolutely refused all entreaties to enter the
town, and Ali seeing that it was useless to insist, and that his
adversary for the present was safe, at once sent his grand-daughter,
the Princess of Aulis, out to him.

This matter disposed of, Ali was able to attend to his hideous family
tragedy.  He began by effecting the disappearance of the women whom
he had been compelled to make his accomplices; they were simply sewn
up in sacks by gipsies and thrown into the lake.  This done, he
himself led the executioners into a subterranean part of the castle,
where they were beheaded by black mutes as a reward for their
obedience.  He then sent a doctor to Zobeide; who succeeded in
causing a miscarriage, and who, his work done, was seized and
strangled by the black mutes who had just beheaded the gipsies.
Having thus got rid of all who could bear witness to his crime, he
wrote to Veli that he might now send for his wife and two of his
children, hitherto detained as hostages, and that the innocence of
Zobeide would confound a calumniator who had dared to assail him with
such injurious suspicions.

When this letter arrived, Pacho Bey, distrusting equally the
treachery of the father and the weakness of the son, and content with
having sown the seeds of dissension in his enemy's family, had
sufficient wisdom to seek safety in flight.  Ali, furious, vowed, on
hearing this, that his vengeance should overtake him even at the ends
of the earth.  Meanwhile he fell back on Yussuf Bey of the Debres,
whose escape when lately at Janina still rankled in his mind.  As
Yussuf was dangerous both from character and influence, Ali feared to
attack him openly, and sought to assassinate him.  This was not
precisely easy; for, exposed to a thousand dangers of this kind, the
nobles of that day were on their guard.  Steel and poison were used
up, and another way had to be sought.  Ali found it.

One of the many adventurers with whom Janina was filled penetrated to
the pacha's presence, and offered to sell the secret of a powder
whereof three grains would suffice to kill a man with a terrible
explosion--explosive powder, in short.  Ali heard with delight, but
replied that he must see it in action before purchasing.

In the dungeons of the castle by the lake, a poor monk of the order
of St. Basil was slowly dying, for having boldly refused a
sacrilegious simony proposed to him by Ali.  He was a fit subject for
the experiment, and was successfully blown to pieces, to the great
satisfaction of Ali, who concluded his bargain, and hastened to make
use of it.  He prepared a false firman, which, according to custom,
was enclosed and sealed in a cylindrical case, and sent to Yussuf Bey
by a Greek, wholly ignorant of the real object of his mission.
Opening it without suspicion, Yussuf had his arm blown off, and died
in consequence, but found time to despatch a message to Moustai Pacha
of Scodra, informing him of the catastrophe, and warning him to keep
good guard.

Yussuf's letter was received by Moustai just as a similar infernal
machine was placed in his hands under cover to his young wife.  The
packet was seized, and a careful examination disclosed its nature.
The mother of Moustai, a jealous and cruel woman, accused her
daughter-in-law of complicity, and the unfortunate Ayesha, though
shortly to become a mother, expired in agony from the effects of
poison, only guilty of being the innocent instrument of her
grandfather's treachery.

Fortune having frustrated Ali's schemes concerning Moustai Pacha,
offered him as consolation a chance of invading the territory of
Parga, the only place in Epirus which had hitherto escaped his rule,
and which he greedily coveted.  Agia, a small Christian town on the
coast, had rebelled against him and allied itself to Parga.  It
provided an excuse for hostilities, and Ali's troops, under his son
Mouktar, first seized Agia, where they only found a few old men to
massacre, and then marched on Parga, where the rebels had taken
refuge.  After a few skirmishes, Mouktar entered the town, and though
the Parganiotes fought bravely, they must inevitably have surrendered
had they been left to themselves.  But they had sought protection
from the French, who had garrisoned the citadel, and the French
grenadiers descending rapidly from the height, charged the Turks with
so much fury that they fled in all directions, leaving on the field
four "bimbashis," or captains of a thousand, and a considerable
number of killed and wounded.

The pacha's fleet succeeded no better than his army.  Issuing from
the Gulf of Ambracia, it was intended to attack Parga from the sea,
joining in the massacre, and cutting off all hope of escape from that
side, Ali meaning to spare neither the garrison nor any male
inhabitants over twelve years of age.  But a few shots fired from a
small fort dispersed the ships, and a barque manned by sailors from
Paxos pursued them, a shot from which killed Ali's admiral on his
quarter-deck.  He was a Greek of Galaxidi, Athanasius Macrys by name.

Filled with anxiety, Ali awaited news at Prevesa, where a courier,
sent off at the beginning of the action, had brought him oranges
gathered in the orchards of Parga.  Ali gave him a purse of gold, and
publicly proclaimed his success.  His joy was redoubled when a second
messenger presented two heads of French soldiers, and announced that
his troops were in possession of the lower part of Parga.  Without
further delay he ordered his attendants to mount, entered his
carriage, and started triumphantly on the Roman road to Nicopolis.
He sent messengers to his generals, ordering them to spare the women
and children of Parga, intended for his harem, and above all to take
strict charge of the plunder.  He was approaching the arena of
Nicopolis when a third Tartar messenger informed him of the defeat of
his army.  Ali changed countenance, and could scarcely articulate the
order to return to Prevesa.  Once in his palace, he gave way to such
fury that all around him trembled, demanding frequently if it could
be true that his troops were beaten.  "May your misfortune be upon
us!" his attendants answered, prostrating themselves.  All at once,
looking out on the calm blue sea which lay before his windows, he
perceived his fleet doubling Cape Pancrator and re-entering the
Ambracian Gulf under full sail; it anchored close by the palace, and
on hailing the leading ship a speaking trumpet announced to Ali the
death of his admiral, Athanasius Macrys.

"But Parga, Parga!" cried Ali.

"May Allah grant the pacha long life!  The Parganiotes have escaped
the sword of His Highness."

"It is the will of Allah!" murmured the pacha; whose head sank upon
his breast in dejection.

Arms having failed, Ali, as usual, took refuge in plots and
treachery, but this time, instead of corrupting his enemies with
gold, he sought to weaken them by division.


The French commander Nicole, surnamed the "Pilgrim," on account of a
journey he had once made to Mecca, had spent six months at Janina
with a brigade of artillery which General Marmont, then commanding in
the Illyrian provinces, had for a time placed at Ali's disposal.  The
old officer had acquired the esteem and friendship of the pacha,
whose leisure he had often amused by stories of his campaigns and

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