Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

the same mother, a lawful wife, but the mother of the youngest, Veli,
was a slave.  His origin was no legal bar to his succeeding like his
brothers.  The family was one of the richest in the town of Tepelen,
whose name it bore, it enjoyed an income of six thousand piastres,
equal to twenty thousand francs.  This was a large fortune in a poor
country, where, all commodities were cheap.  But the Tepeleni family,
holding the rank of beys, had to maintain a state like that of the
great  financiers of feudal Europe.  They had to keep a large stud of
horses, with a great retinue of servants and men-at-arms, and
consequently to incur heavy expenses; thus they constantly found
their revenue inadequate.  The most natural means of raising it which
occurred to them was to diminish the number of those who shared it;
therefore the two elder brothers, sons of the wife, combined against
Veli, the son of the slave, and drove him out of the house.  The
latter, forced to leave home, bore his fate like a brave man, and
determined to levy exactions on others to compensate him for the
losses incurred through his brothers.  He became a freebooter,
patrolling highroads and lanes, with his gun on his shoulder and his
yataghan in his belt, attacking, holding for ransom, or plundering
all whom he encountered.

After some years of this profitable business, he found himself a
wealthy man and chief of a warlike band.  Judging that the moment for
vengeance had arrived, he marched for Tepelen, which he reached
unsuspected, crossed the river Vojutza, the ancient Aous, penetrated
the streets unresisted, and presented himself before the paternal
house, in which his brothers, forewarned, had barricaded themselves.
He at once besieged them, soon forced the gates, and pursued them to
a tent, in which they took a final refuge.  He surrounded this tent,
waited till they were inside it, and then set fire to the four
corners.  "See," said he to those around him, "they cannot accuse me
of vindictive reprisals; my brothers drove me out of doors, and I
retaliate by keeping them at home for ever."

In a few moments he was his father's sole heir and master of Tepelen.
Arrived at the summit of his ambition, he gave up free-booting, and
established himself in the town, of which he became chief ago.  He
had already a son by a slave, who soon presented him with another
son, and afterwards with a daughter, so that he had no reason to fear
dying without an heir.  But finding himself rich enough to maintain
more wives and bring up many children, he desired to increase his
credit by allying himself to some great family of the country.  He
therefore solicited and obtained the hand of Kamco, daughter of a bey
of Conitza.  This marriage attached him by the ties of relationship
to the principal families of the province, among others to Kourd
Pacha, Vizier of Serat, who was descended from the illustrious race
of Scander Beg.  After a few years, Veli had by his new wife a son
named Ali, the subject of this history, and a daughter named

Ire spite of his intentions to reform, Veli could not entirely give
up his old habits.  Although his fortune placed him altogether above
small gains and losses, he continued to amuse himself by raiding from
time to time sheep, goats, and other perquisites, probably to keep
his hand in.  This innocent exercise of his taste was not to the
fancy of his neighbours, and brawls and fights recommenced in fine
style.  Fortune did not always favour him, and the old mountaineer
lost in the town part of what he had made on the hills.  Vexations
soured his temper and injured his health.  Notwithstanding the
injunctions of Mahomet, he sought consolation in wine, which soon
closed his career.  He died in 1754.


Ali thus at thirteen years of age was free to indulge in the
impetuosity of his character.  From his early youth he had manifested
a mettle and activity rare in young Turks, haughty by nature and
self-restrained by education.  Scarcely out of the nursery, he spent
his time in climbing mountains, wandering through forests, scaling
precipices, rolling in snow, inhaling the wind, defying the tempests,
breathing out his nervous energy through every pore.  Possibly he
learnt in the midst of every kind of danger to brave everything and
subdue everything; possibly in sympathy with the majesty of nature,
he felt aroused in him a need of personal grandeur which nothing
could satiate.  In vain his father sought to calm his savage temper;
and restrain his vagabond spirit; nothing was of, any use.  As
obstinate as intractable, he set at defiance all efforts and all
precautions.  If they shut him up, he broke the door or jumped out of
the window; if they threatened him, he pretended to comply, conquered
by fear, and promised everything that was required, but only to break
his word the first opportunity.  He had a tutor specially attached to
his person and charged to supervise all his actions.  He constantly
deluded him by fresh tricks, and when he thought himself free from
the consequences, he maltreated him with gross violence.  It was only
in his youth, after his father's death, that he became more
manageable; he even consented to learn to read, to please his mother,
whose idol he was, and to whom in return he gave all his affection.

If Kamco had so strong a liking for Ali, it was because she found in
him, not only her blood, but also her character.  During the lifetime
of her husband, whom she feared, she seemed only an ordinary woman;
but as soon as his eyes were closed, she gave free scope to the
violent passions which agitated her bosom.  Ambitious, bold,
vindictive; she assiduously cultivated the germs of ambition,
hardihood, and vengeance which already strongly showed themselves in
the young Ali.  "My son," she was never tired of telling him, "he who
cannot defend his patrimony richly deserves to lose it.  Remember
that the property of others is only theirs so long as they are strong
enough to keep it, and that when you find yourself strong enough to
take it from them, it is yours.  Success justifies everything, and
everything is permissible to him who has the power to do it."

Ali, when he reached the zenith of his greatness, used to declare
that his success was entirely his mother's work.  "I owe everything
to my mother," he said one day to the French Consul; "for my father,
when he died, left me nothing but a den of wild beasts and a few
fields.  My imagination, inflamed by the counsels of her who has
given me life twice over, since she has made me both a man and a
vizier, revealed to me the secret of my destiny.  Thenceforward I saw
nothing in Tepelen but the natal air from which I was to spring on
the prey which I devoured mentally.  I dreamt of nothing else but
power, treasures, palaces, in short what time has realised and still
promises; for the point I have now reached is not the limit of my

Kamco did not confine herself to words; she employed every means to
increase the fortune of her beloved son and to make him a power.  Her
first care was to poison the children of Veli's favourite slave, who
had died before him.  Then, at ease about the interior of her family,
she directed her attention to the exterior.  Renouncing all the habit
of her sex, she abandoned the veil and the distaff, and took up arms,
under pretext of maintaining the rights of her children.  She
collected round her her husband's old partisans, whom she attached to
her, service, some by presents, others by various favours, and she
gradually enlisted all the lawless and adventurous men in Toscaria.
With their aid, she made herself all powerful in Tepelen, and
inflicted the most rigorous persecutions on such as remained hostile
to her.

But the inhabitants of the two adjacent villages of Kormovo and
Kardiki, fearing lest this terrible woman, aided by her son, now
grown into a man, should strike a blow against their independence;
made a secret alliance against her, with the object of putting her
out of the way the first convenient opportunity.  Learning one day
that Ali had started on a distant expedition with his best soldiers;
they surprised Tepelen under cover of night, and carried off Kamco
and her daughter Chainitza captives to Kardiki.  It was proposed to
put them to death; and sufficient evidence to justify their execution
was not wanting; but their beauty saved their lives; their captors
preferred to revenge themselves by licentiousness rather than by
murder.  Shut up all day in prison, they only emerged at night to
pass into the arms of the men who had won them by lot the previous
morning.  This state of things lasted for a month, at the end of
which a Greek of Argyro-Castron, named G. Malicovo, moved by
compassion for their horrible fate, ransomed them for twenty thousand
piastres, and took them back to Tepelen.

Ali had just returned.  He was accosted by his mother and sister,
pale with fatigue, shame, and rage.  They told him what had taken
place, with cries and tears, and Kamco added, fixing her distracted
eyes upon him, "My son! my son! my soul will enjoy no peace till
Kormovo and Kardikil destroyed by thy scimitar, will no longer exist
to bear witness to my dishonour."

Ali, in whom this sight and this story had aroused, sanguinary
passions, promised a vengeance proportioned to the outrage, and
worked with all his might to place himself in a position to keep his
word.  A worthy son of his father, he had commenced life in the
fashion of the heroes of ancient Greece, stealing sheep and goats,
and from the age of fourteen years he had acquired an equal
reputation to that earned by the son of Jupiter and Maia.  When he
grew to manhood, he extended his operations.  At the time of which we
are speaking, he had long practised open pillage.  His plundering
expeditions added to his mother's savings, who since her return from
Kardiki had altogether withdrawn from public life, and devoted
herself to household duties, enabled him to collect a considerable
force for am expedition against Kormovo, one of the two towns he had

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: