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List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
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hand fervently to his lips.  He never took his eyes off Ali, and the
lantern, near which a match was constantly smoking, was entrusted
only to him and to Ali, who took turns with him in watching it.  Ali
drew a pistol from his belt, making as if to turn it towards the
powder magazine, and the envoys fell at his feet, uttering
involuntary cries of terror.  He smiled at their fears, and assured
them that, being wearied of the weight of his weapons, he had only
intended to relieve himself of some of them.  He then begged them to
seat themselves, and added that he should like even a more terrible
funeral than that which they had just ascribed to him.  "I do not
wish to drag down with me," he exclaimed, "those who have come to
visit me as friends; it is Kursheed, whom I have long regarded as my
brother, his chiefs, those who have betrayed me, his whole army in
short, whom I desire to follow me to the tomb--a sacrifice which will
be worthy of my renown, and of the brilliant end to which I aspire."

The envoys gazed at him with stupefaction, which did not diminish
when Ali further informed them that they were not only sitting over
the arch of a casemate filled with two hundred thousand pounds of
powder, but that the whole castle, which they had so rashly occupied,
was undermined.  "The rest you have seen," he said, "but of this you
could not be aware.  My riches are the sole cause of the war which
has been made against me, and in one moment I can destroy them.  Life
is nothing to me, I might have ended it among the Greeks, but could
I, a powerless old man, resolve to live on terms of equality among
those whose absolute master I have been?  Thus, whichever way I look,
my career is ended.  However, I am attached to those who still
surround me, so hear my last resolve.  Let a pardon, sealed by the
sultan's hands, be given me, and I will submit.  I will go to
Constantinople, to Asia Minor, or wherever I am sent.  The things I
should see here would no longer be fitting for me to behold."

To this Kursheed's envoys made answer that without doubt these terms
would be conceded.  Ali then touched his breast and forehead, and,
drawing forth his watch, presented it to the keeper of the wardrobe.
"I mean what I say, my friend," he observed; "my word will be kept.
If within an hour thy soldiers are not withdrawn from this castle
which has been treacherously yielded to them, I will blow it up.
Return to the Seraskier, warn him that if he allows one minute more
to elapse than the time specified, his army, his garrison, I myself
and my family, will all perish together: two hundred thousand pounds
of powder can destroy all that surrounds us.  Take this watch, I give
it thee, and forget not that I am a man of my word."  Then,
dismissing the messengers, he saluted them graciously, observing that
he did not expect an answer until the soldiers should have evacuated
the castle.

The envoys had barely returned to the camp when Kursheed sent orders
to abandon the fortress.  As the reason far this step could not be
concealed, everyone, exaggerating the danger, imagined deadly mines
ready to be fired everywhere, and the whole army clamoured to break
up the camp.  Thus Ali and his fifty followers cast terror into the
hearts of nearly thirty thousand men, crowded together on the slopes
of Janina.  Every sound, every whiff of smoke, ascending from near
the castle, became a subject of alarm for the besiegers.  And as the
besieged had provisions for a long time, Kursheed saw little chance
of successfully ending his enterprise; when Ali's demand for pardon
occurred to him.  Without stating his real plans, he proposed to his
Council to unite in signing a petition to the Divan for Ali's pardon.

This deed, formally executed, and bearing more than sixty signatures,
was then shown to Ali, who was greatly delighted.  He was described
in it as Vizier, as Aulic Councillor, and also as the most
distinguished veteran among His Highness the Sultan's slaves.  He
sent rich presents to Kursheed and the principal officers, whom he
hoped to corrupt, and breathed as though the storm had passed away.
The following night, however, he heard the voice of Emineh, calling
him several times, and concluded that his end drew nigh.

During the two next nights he again thought he heard Emineh's voice,
and sleep forsook his pillow, his countenance altered, and his
endurance appeared to be giving way.  Leaning on a long Malacca cane,
he repaired at early dawn to Emineh's tomb, on which he offered a
sacrifice of two spotted lambs, sent him by Tahir Abbas, whom in
return he consented to pardon, and the letters he received appeared
to mitigate his trouble.  Some days later, he saw the keeper of the
wardrobe, who encouraged him, saying that before long there would be
good news from Constantinople.  Ali learned from him the disgrace of
Pacho Bey, and of Ismail Pliaga, whom he detested equally, and this
exercise of authority, which was made to appear as a beginning of
satisfaction offered him, completely reassured him, and he made fresh
presents to this officer, who had succeeded in inspiring him with
confidence.

Whilst awaiting the arrival of the firman of pardon which Ali was
reassured must arrive from Constantinople without fail, the keeper of
the wardrobe advised him to seek an interview with Kursheed.  It was
clear that such a meeting could not take place in the undermined
castle, and Ali was therefore invited to repair to the island in the
lake.  The magnificent pavilion, which he had constructed there in
happier days, had been entirely refurnished, and it was proposed that
the conference should take place in this kiosk.

Ali appeared to hesitate at this proposal, and the keeper of the
wardrobe, wishing to anticipate his objections, added that the object
of this arrangement was, to prove to the army, already aware of it,
that there was no longer any quarrel between himself and the
commander-in-chief.  He added that Kursheed would go to the
conference attended only by members of his Divan, but that as it was
natural an outlawed man should be on his guard, Ali might, if he
liked, send to examine the place, might take with him such guards as
he thought necessary, and might even arrange things on the same
footing as in his citadel, even to his guardian with the lighted
match, as the surest guarantee which could be given him.

The proposition was accepted, and when Ali, having crossed over with
a score of soldiers, found himself more at large than he did in his
casemate, he congratulated himself on having come.  He had Basilissa
brought over, also his diamonds; and several chests of money.  Two
days passed without his thinking of anything but procuring various
necessaries, and he then began to inquire what caused the Seraskier
to delay his visit.  The latter excused himself on the plea of
illness, and offered meanwhile to send anyone Ali might wish to see,
to visit him: The pacha immediately mentioned several of his former
followers, now employed in the Imperial army, and as no difficulty
was made in allowing them to go, he profited by the permission to
interview a large number of his old acquaintances, who united in
reassuring him and in giving him great hopes of success.

Nevertheless, time passed on, and neither the Seraskier nor the
firman appeared.  Ali, at first uneasy, ended by rarely mentioning
either the one or the other, and never was deceiver more completely
deceived.  His security was so great that he loudly congratulated
himself on having come to the island.  He had begun to form a net of
intrigue to cause himself to be intercepted on the road when he
should be sent to Constantinople, and he did not despair of soon
finding numerous partisans in the Imperial army.




CHAPTER XI

For a whole week all seemed going well, when, on the morning of
February 5th, Kursheed sent Hassan Pacha to convey his compliments to
Ali, and announce that the sultan's firman, so long desired, had at
length arrived.  Their mutual wishes had been heard, but it was
desirable, for the dignity of their sovereign, that Ali, in order to
show his gratitude and submission, should order Selim to extinguish
the fatal match and to leave the cave, and that the rest of the
garrison should first display the Imperial standard and then evacuate
the enclosure.  Only on this condition could Kursheed deliver into
Ali's hands the sultan's decree of clemency.

Ali was alarmed, and his eyes were at length opened.  He replied
hesitatingly, that on leaving the citadel he had charged Selim to
obey only his own verbal order, that no written command, even though
signed and sealed by himself, would produce any effect, and therefore
he desired to repair himself to the castle, in order to fulfil what
was required.

Thereupon a long argument ensued, in which Ali's sagacity, skill, and
artifice struggled vainly against a decided line of action.  New
protestations were made to deceive him, oaths were even taken on the
Koran that no evil designs, no mental reservations, were entertained.
At length, yielding to the prayers of those who surrounded him,
perhaps concluding that all his skill could no longer fight against
Destiny, he finally gave way.

Drawing a secret token from his bozom, he handed it to Kursheed's
envoy, saying, "Go, show this to Selim, and you will convert a dragon
into a lamb."  And in fact, at sight of the talisman, Selim
prostrated himself, extinguished the match, and fell, stabbed to the
heart.  At the same time the garrison withdrew, the Imperial standard
displayed its blazonry, and the lake castle was occupied by the
troops of the Seraskier, who rent the air with their acclamations.

It was then noon.  Ali, in the island, had lost all illusions.  His
pulse beat violently, but his countenance did not betray his mental
trouble.  It was noticed that he appeared at intervals to be lost in
profound thought, that he yawned frequently, and continually drew his
fingers through his beard.  He drank coffee and iced water several
times, incessantly looked at his watch, and taking his field-glass,

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