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List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
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forming the aristocracy of the place, whose hatred he was well aware
of, and whose plots he dreaded.  He ruined them all, banishing many
and putting others to death.  Knowing that he must make friends to
supply the vacancy caused by the destruction of his foes, he enriched
with the spoil the Albanian mountaineers in his pay, known by the
name of Skipetars, on whom he conferred most of the vacant
employments.  But much too prudent to allow all the power to fall
into the hands of a single caste, although a foreign one to the
capital, he, by a singular innovation, added to and mixed with them
an infusion of Orthodox Greeks, a skilful but despised race, whose
talents he could use without having to dread their influence.  While
thus endeavouring on one side to destroy the power of his enemies by
depriving them of both authority and wealth, and on the other to
consolidate his own by establishing a firm administration, he
neglected no means of acquiring popularity.  A fervent disciple of
Mahomet when among fanatic Mussulmans, a materialist with the
Bektagis who professed a rude pantheism, a Christian among the
Greeks, with whom he drank to the health of the Holy Virgin, he made
everywhere partisans by flattering the idea most in vogue.  But if he
constantly changed both opinions and language when dealing with
subordinates whom it was desirable to win over, Ali towards his
superiors had one only line of conduct which he never transgressed.
Obsequious towards the Sublime Porte, so long as it did not interfere
with his private authority, he not only paid with exactitude all dues
to the sultan, to whom he even often advanced money, but he also
pensioned the most influential ministers.  He was bent on having no
enemies who could really injure his power, and he knew that in an
absolute government no conviction can hold its own against the power
of gold.

Having thus annihilated the nobles, deceived the multitude with
plausible words and lulled to sleep the watchfulness of the Divan,
Ali resolved to turn his arms against Kormovo.  At the foot of its
rocks he had, in youth, experienced the disgrace of defeat, and
during thirty nights Kamco and Chainitza had endured all horrors of
outrage at the hands of its warriors.  Thus the implacable pacha had
a twofold wrong to punish, a double vengeance to exact.

This time, profiting by experience, he called in the aid of
treachery.  Arrived at the citadel, he negotiated, promised an
amnesty, forgiveness for all, actual rewards for some.  The
inhabitants, only too happy to make peace with so formidable an
adversary, demanded and obtained a truce to settle the conditions.
This was exactly what Ali expected, and Kormovo, sleeping on the
faith of the treaty, was suddenly attacked and taken.  All who did
not escape by flight perished by the sword in the darkness, or by the
hand of the executioner the next morning.  Those who had offered
violence aforetime to Ali's mother and sister were carefully sought
for, and whether convicted or merely accused, were impaled on spits,
torn with redhot pincers, and slowly roasted between two fires; the
women were shaved and publicly scourged, and then sold as slaves.

This vengeance, in which all the nobles of the province not yet
entirely ruined were compelled to assist, was worth a decisive
victory to Ali.  Towns, cantons, whole districts, overwhelmed with
terror, submitted without striking a blow, and his name, joined to
the recital of a massacre which ranked as a glorious exploit in the
eyes of this savage people, echoed like thunder from valley to valley
and mountain to mountain.  In order that all surrounding him might
participate in the joy of his success Ali gave his army a splendid
festival.  Of unrivalled activity, and, Mohammedan only in name, he
himself led the chorus in the Pyrrhic and Klephtic dances, the
ceremonials of warriors and of robbers.  There was no lack of wine,
of sheep, goats, and lambs roasted before enormous fires; made of the
debris of the ruined city; antique games of archery and wrestling
were celebrated, and the victors received their prizes from the hand
of their chief.  The plunder, slaves, and cattle were then shared,
and the Tapygae, considered as the lowest of the four tribes
composing the race of Skipetars, and ranking as the refuse of the
army, carried off into the mountains of Acroceraunia, doors, windows,
nails, and even the tiles of the houses, which were then all
surrendered to the flames.

However, Ibrahim, the successor and son-in-law of Kurd Pacha, could
not see with indifference part of his province invaded by his
ambitious neighbour.  He complained and negotiated, but obtaining no
satisfaction, called out an army composed of Skipetars of Toxid, all
Islamites, and gave the command to his brother Sepher, Bey of Avlone.
Ali, who had adopted the policy of opposing alternately the Cross to
the Crescent and the Crescent to the Cross, summoned to his aid the
Christian chiefs of the mountains, who descended into the plains at
the head of their unconquered troops.  As is generally the case in
Albania, where war is merely an excuse for brigandage, instead of
deciding matters by a pitched battle, both sides contented themselves
with burning villages, hanging peasants, and carrying off cattle.

Also, in accordance with the custom of the country, the women
interposed between the combatants, and the good and gentle Emineh
laid proposals of peace before Ibrahim Pacha, to whose apathetic
disposition a state of war was disagreeable, and who was only too
happy to conclude a fairly satisfactory negotiation.  A family
alliance was arranged, in virtue of which Ali retained his conquests,
which were considered as the marriage portion of Ibrahim's eldest
daughter, who became the wife of Ali's eldest son, Mouktar.

It was hoped that this peace might prove permanent, but the marriage
which sealed the treaty was barely concluded before a fresh quarrel
broke out between the pachas.  Ali, having wrung such important
concessions from the weakness of his neighbour, desired to obtain yet
more.  But closely allied to Ibrahim were two persons gifted with
great firmness of character and unusual ability, whose position gave
them great influence.  They were his wife Zaidee, and his brother
Sepher, who had been in command during the war just terminated.  As
both were inimical to Ali, who could not hope to corrupt them, the
latter resolved to get rid of them.

Having in the days of his youth been intimate with Kurd Pacha, Ali
had endeavoured to seduce his daughter, already the wife of Ibrahim.
Being discovered by the latter in the act of scaling the wall of his
harem, he had been obliged to fly the country.  Wishing now to ruin
the woman whom he had formerly tried to corrupt, Ali sought to turn
his former crime to the success of a new one.  Anonymous letters,
secretly sent to Ibrahim, warned him that his wife intended to poison
him, in order to be able later to marry Ali Pacha, whom she had
always loved.  In a country like Turkey, where to suspect a woman is
to accuse her, and accusation is synonymous with condemnation, such a
calumny might easily cause the death of the innocent Zaidee.  But if
Ibrahim was weak and indolent, he was also confiding and generous.
He took the letters; to his wife, who had no difficulty in clearing
herself, and who warned him against the writer, whose object and
plots she easily divined, so that this odious conspiracy turned only
to Ali's discredit.  But the latter was not likely either to concern
himself as to what others said or thought about him or to be
disconcerted by a failure.  He simply turned his machinations against
his other enemy, and arranged matters this time so as to avoid a
failure.

He sent to Zagori, a district noted for its doctors, for a quack who
undertook to poison Sepher Bey on condition of receiving forty
purses.  When all was settled, the miscreant set out for Berat, and
was immediately accused by Ali of evasion, and his wife and children
were arrested as accomplices and detained, apparently as hostages for
the good behaviour of their husband and father, but really as pledges
for his silence when the crime should have been accomplished.  Sepher
Bey, informed of this by letters which Ali wrote to the Pacha of
Berat demanding the fugitive, thought that a man persecuted by his
enemy would be faithful to himself, and took the supposed runaway
into his service.  The traitor made skilful use of the kindness of
his too credulous protector, insinuated himself into his confidence,
became his trusted physician and apothecary, and gave him poison
instead of medicine on the very first appearance of indisposition.
As soon as symptoms of death appeared, the poisoner fled, aided by
the emissaries of All, with whom the court of Berat was packed, and
presented himself at Janina to receive the reward of his crime.  Ali
thanked him for his zeal, commended his skill, and referred him to
the treasurer.  But the instant the wretch left the seraglio in order
to receive his recompense, he was seized by the executioners and
hurried to the gallows.  In thus punishing the assassin, Ali at one
blow discharged the debt he owed him, disposed of the single witness
to be dreaded, and displayed his own friendship for the victim!  Not
content with this, he endeavoured to again throw suspicion on the
wife of Ibrahim Pacha, whom he accused of being jealous of the
influence which Sepher Pacha had exercised in the family.  This he
mentioned regularly in conversation, writing in the same style to his
agents at Constantinople, and everywhere where there was any profit
in slandering a family whose ruin he desired for the sake of their
possessions.  Before long he made a pretext out of the scandal
started by himself, and prepared to take up arms in order, he said,
to avenge his friend Sepher Bey, when he was anticipated by Ibrahim
Pacha, who roused against him the allied Christians of Thesprotia,
foremost among whom ranked the Suliots famed through Albania for
their courage and their love of independence.


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