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List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
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had received all fugitives with kindness.  The Greek insurgents
dreaded such an event, which would have turned all Kursheed's army,
hitherto detained before the castle, of Janina, loose upon
themselves.  Therefore they hastened to send to their former enemy,
now their ally, assistance which he declined to accept.  Ali saw
himself surrounded by enemies thirsting for his wealth, and his
avarice increasing with the danger, he had for some months past
refused to pay his defenders.  He contented himself with informing
his captains of the insurgents' offer, and telling them that he was
confident that bravery such as theirs required no reinforcement.  And
when some of them besought him to at least receive two or three
hundred Palikars into the castle, "No," said he; "old serpents always
remain old serpents: I distrust the Suliots and their friendship."

Ignorant of Ali's decision, the Greeks of the Selleid were advancing,
as well as the Toxidae, towards Janina, when they received the
following letter from Ali Pacha:

"My well-beloved children, I have just learned that you are preparing
to despatch a party of your Palikars against our common enemy,
Kursheed.  I desire to inform you that this my fortress is
impregnable, and that I can hold out against him for several years.
The only, service I require of your courage is, that you should
reduce Arta, and take alive Ismail Pacho Bey, my former servant, the
mortal enemy of my family, and the author of the evils and frightful
calamities which have so long oppressed our unhappy country, which he
has laid waste before our eyes.  Use your best efforts to accomplish
this, it will strike at the root of the evil, and my treasures shall
reward your Palikars, whose courage every day gains a higher value in
my eyes."

Furious at this mystification, the Suliots retired to their
mountains, and Kursheed profited by the discontent Ali's conduct had
caused, to win over the Toxide Skipetars, with their commanders Tahir
Abbas and Hagi Bessiaris, who only made two conditions: one, that
Ismail Pacho Bey, their personal enemy, should be deposed; the other,
that the life of their old vizier should be respected.

The first condition was faithfully adhered to by Kursheed, actuated
by private motives different from those which he gave publicly, and
Ismail Pacho Bey was solemnly deposed.  The tails, emblems of
his authority, were removed; he resigned the plumes of office; his
soldiers forsook him, his servants followed suit.  Fallen to the
lowest rank, he was soon thrown into prison, where he only blamed
Fate for his misfortunes.  All the Skipetar Agas hastened to place
themselves under Kursheeds' standard, and enormous forces now
threatened Janina.  All Epirus awaited the denoument with anxiety.

Had he been less avaricious, Ali might have enlisted all the
adventurers with whom the East was swarming, and made the sultan
tremble in his capital.  But the aged pacha clung passionately to his
treasures.  He feared also, perhaps not unreasonably, that those by
whose aid he might triumph would some day become his master.  He long
deceived himself with the idea that the English, who had sold Parga
to him, would never allow a Turkish fleet to enter the Ionian Sea.
Mistaken on this point, his foresight was equally at fault with
regard to the cowardice of his sons.  The defection of his troops was
not less fatal, and he only understood the bearing of the Greek
insurrection which he himself had provoked, so far as to see that in
this struggle he was merely an instrument in procuring the freedom of
a country which he had too cruelly oppressed to be able to hold even
an inferior rank in it.  His last letter to the Suliots opened the
eyes of his followers, but under the influence of a sort of polite
modesty these were at least anxious to stipulate for the life of
their vizier.  Kursheed was obliged to produce firmans from the
Porte, declaring that if Ali Tepelen submitted, the royal promise
given to his sons should be kept, and that he should, with them, be
transferred to Asia Minor, as also his harem, his servants; and his
treasures, and allowed to finish his days in peace.  Letters from
Ali's sons were shown to the Agas, testifying to the good treatment
they had experienced in their exile; and whether the latter believed
all this, or whether they merely sought to satisfy their own
consciences, they henceforth thought only of inducing their
rebellious chief to submit.  Finally, eight months' pay, given them
in advance, proved decisive, and they frankly embraced the cause of
the sultan.

The garrison of the castle on the lake, whom Ali seemed anxious to
offend as much as possible, by refusing their pay, he thinking them
so compromised that they would not venture even to accept an amnesty
guaranteed by the mufti, began to desert as soon as they knew the
Toxidae had arrived at the Imperial camp.  Every night these
Skipetars who could cross the moat betook themselves to Kursheed's
quarters.  One single man yet baffled all the efforts of the
besiegers.  The chief engineer, Caretto, like another Archimedes,
still carried terror into the midst of their camp.

Although reduced to the direst misery, Caretto could not forget that
he owed his life to the master who now only repaid his services with
the most sordid ingratitude.  When he had first come to Epirus, Ali,
recognising his ability, became anxious to retain him, but without
incurring any expense.  He ascertained that the Neapolitan was
passionately in love with a Mohammedan girl named Nekibi, who
returned his affection.  Acting under Ali's orders, Tahir Abbas
accused the woman before the cadi of sacrilegious intercourse with an
infidel.  She could only escape death by the apostasy of her lover;
if he refused to deny his God, he shared her fate, and both would
perish at the stake.  Caretto refused to renounce his religion, but
only Nekibi suffered death.  Caretto was withdrawn from execution,
and Ali kept him concealed in a place of safety, whence he produced
him in the time of need.  No one had served him with greater zeal; it
is even possible that a man of this type would have died at his post,
had his cup not been filled with mortification and insult.

Eluding the vigilance of Athanasius Vaya, whose charge it was to keep
guard over him, Caretto let himself down by a cord fastened to the
end of a cannon: He fell at the foot of the rampart, and thence
dragged himself, with a broken arm, to the opposite camp.  He had
become nearly blind through the explosion of a cartridge which had
burnt his face.  He was received as well as a Christian from whom
there was now nothing to fear, could expect.  He received the bread
of charity, and as a refugee is only valued in proportion to the use
which can be made of him, he was despised and forgotten.

The desertion of Caretto was soon followed by a defection which
annihilated Ali's last hopes.  The garrison which had given him so
many proofs of devotion, discouraged by his avarice, suffering from a
disastrous epidemic, and no longer equal to the necessary labour in
defence of the place, opened all, the gates simultaneously to the
enemy.  But the besiegers, fearing a trap, advanced very slowly; so
that Ali, who had long prepared against very sort of surprise, had
time to gain a place which he called his "refuge."

It was a sort of fortified enclosure, of solid masonry, bristling
with cannon, which surrounded the private apartments of his seraglio,
called the "Women's Tower."  He had taken care to demolish everything
which could be set on fire, reserving only a mosque and the tomb of
his wife Emineh, whose phantom, after announcing an eternal repose,
had ceased to haunt him.  Beneath was an immense natural cave, in
which he had stored ammunition, precious articles, provisions, and
the treasures which had not been sunk in the lake.  In this cave an
apartment had been made for Basilissa and his harem, also a shelter
in which he retired to sleep when exhausted with fatigue.  This place
was his last resort, a kind of mausoleum; and he did not seem
distressed at beholding the castle in the hands of his enemies.  He
calmly allowed them to occupy the entrance, deliver their hostages,
overrun the ramparts, count the cannon which were on the platforms,
crumbling from the hostile shells; but when they came within hearing,
he demanded by one of his servants that Kursheed should send him an
envoy of distinction; meanwhile he forbade anyone to pass beyond a
certain place which he pointed out.

Kursheed, imagining that, being in the last extremity, he would
capitulate, sent out Tahir Abbas and Hagi Bessiaris.  Ali listened
without reproaching them for their treachery, but simply observed
that be wished to meet some of the chief officers.

The Seraskier then deputed his keeper of the wardrobe, accompanied by
his keeper of the seals and other persons of quality.  Ali received
them with all ceremony, and, after the usual compliments had been
exchanged, invited them to descend with him into the cavern.  There
he showed them more than two thousand barrels of powder carefully
arranged beneath his treasures, his remaining provisions, and a
number of valuable objects which adorned this slumbering volcano.  He
showed them also his bedroom, a sort of cell richly furnished, and
close to the powder.  It could be reached only by means of three
doors, the secret of which was known to no one but himself.
Alongside of this was the harem, and in the neighbouring mosque was
quartered his garrison, consisting of fifty men, all ready to bury
themselves under the ruins of this fortification, the only spot
remaining to him of all Greece, which had formerly bent beneath his
authority.

After this exhibition, Ali presented one of his most devoted
followers to the envoys.  Selim, who watched over the fire, was a
youth in appearance as gentle as his heart was intrepid, and his
special duty was to be in readiness to blow up the whole place at any
moment.  The pacha gave him his hand to kiss, inquiring if he were
ready to die, to which he only responded by pressing his master's

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