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

threats, and curses, but, not knowing whom to blame for her
misfortune, she hastened to leave the scene of it, and returned to
Janina, to mingle her tears with those of her brother.  She found Ali
apparently in such depths of grief, that instead of suspecting, she
was actually tempted to pity him, and this seeming sympathy soothed
her distress, aided by the caresses of her second son, Aden Bey.
Ali, thoughtful of his own interests, took care to send one of his
own officers to Trikala, to administer justice in the place of his
deceased nephew, and the Porte, seeing that all attempts against him
only caused misfortune, consented to his resuming the government of

This climax roused the suspicions of many persons.  But the public
voice, already discussing the causes of the death of Elinas, was
stifled by the thunder of the cannon, which, from the ramparts of
Janina, announced to Epirus the birth of another son to Ali, Salik
Bey, whose mother was a Georgian slave.

Fortune, seemingly always ready both to crown Ali's crimes with
success and to fulfil his wishes, had yet in reserve a more precious
gift than any of the others, that of a good and beautiful wife; who
should replace, and even efface the memory of the beloved Emineh.

The Porte, while sending to Ali the firman which restored to him the
government of Thessaly, ordered him to seek out and destroy a society
of coiners who dwelt within his jurisdiction.  Ali, delighted to,
prove his zeal by a service which cost nothing but bloodshed; at once
set his spies to work, and having discovered the abode of the gang,
set out for the place attended by a strong escort.  It was a village
called Plikivitza.

Having arrived in the evening, he spent the night in taking measures
to prevent escape, and at break of day attacked the village suddenly
with his whole force.  The coiners were seized in the act.  Ali
immediately ordered the chief to be hung at his own door and the
whole population to be massacred.  Suddenly a young girl of great
beauty made her way through the tumult and sought refuge at his feet.
Ali, astonished, asked who she was.  She answered with a look of
mingled innocence and terror, kissing his hands, which she bathed
with tears, and said:

"O my lord!  I implore thee to intercede with the terrible vizier Ali
for my mother and brothers.  My father is dead, behold where he hangs
at the door of our cottage!  But we have done nothing to rouse the
anger of our dreadful master.  My mother is a poor woman who never
offended anyone, and we are only weak children.  Save us from him!"

Touched in spite of himself, the pacha took the girl in his arms, and
answered her with a gentle smile.

"Thou hast come to the wrong man, child: I am this terrible vizier."

"Oh no, no!  you are good, you will be our good lord."

"Well, be comforted, my child, and show me thy mother and thy
brothers; they shall be spared.  Thou hast saved their lives."

And as she knelt at his feet, overcome with joy, he raised her and
asked her name.

"Basilessa," she replied.

"Basilessa, Queen!  it is a name of good augury.  Basilessa, thou
shalt dwell with me henceforth."

And he collected the members of her family, and gave orders for them
to be sent to Janina in company with the maiden, who repaid his mercy
with boundless love and devotion.

Let us mention one trait of gratitude shown by Ali at the end of this
expedition, and his record of good deeds is then closed.  Compelled
by a storm to take refuge in a miserable hamlet, he inquired its
name, and on hearing it appeared surprised and thoughtful, as if
trying to recall lost memories.  Suddenly he asked if a woman named
Nouza dwelt in the village, and was told there was an old infirm
woman of that name in great poverty.  He ordered her to be brought
before him.  She came and prostrated herself in terror.  Ali raised
her kindly.

"Dost thou not know me?" he asked.

"Have mercy, great Vizier," answered the poor woman, who, having
nothing to lose but her life, imagined that even that would be taken
from her.

"I see," said the pacha, "that if thou knowest me, thou dost not
really recognise me."

The woman looked at him wonderingly, not understanding his words in
the least.

"Dost thou remember," continued Ali, "that forty years ago a young
man asked for shelter from the foes who pursued him?  Without
inquiring his name or standing, thou didst hide him in thy humble
house, and dressed his wounds, and shared thy scanty food with him,
and when he was able to go forward thou didst stand on thy threshold
to wish him good luck and success.  Thy wishes were heard, for the
young man was Ali Tepeleni, and I who speak am he!"

The old woman stood overwhelmed with astonishment.  She departed
calling down blessings on the pasha, who assured her a pension of
fifteen hundred francs for the rest of her days.

But these two good actions are only flashes of light illuminating the
dark horizon of Ali's life for a brief moment.  Returned to Janina,
he resumed his tyranny, his intrigues, and cruelty.  Not content with
the vast territory which owned his sway, he again invaded that of his
neighbours on every pretext.  Phocis, Mtolia, Acarnania, were by
turns occupied by his troops, the country ravaged, and the
inhabitants decimated.  At the same time he compelled Ibrahim Pacha
to surrender his last remaining daughter, and give her in marriage to
his nephew, Aden Bey, the son of Chainitza.  This new alliance with a
family he had so often attacked and despoiled gave him fresh arms
against it, whether by being enabled better to watch the pasha's
sons, or to entice them into some snare with greater ease.

Whilst he thus married his nephew, he did not neglect the advancement
of his sons.  By the aid of the French Ambassador, whom he had
convinced of his devotion to the Emperor Napoleon, he succeeded in
getting the pachalik of Morea bestowed on Veli, and that of Lepanto
on Mouktar.  But as in placing his sons in these exalted positions
his only aim was to aggrandise and consolidate his own power, he
himself ordered their retinues, giving them officers of his own
choosing.  When they departed to their governments, he kept their
wives, their children, and even their furniture as pledges, saying
that they ought not to be encumbered with domestic establishments in
time of war, Turkey just then being at open war with England.  He
also made use of this opportunity to get rid of people who displeased
him, among others, of a certain Ismail Pacho Bey, who had been
alternately both tool and enemy, whom he made secretary to his son
Veli, professedly as a pledge of reconciliation and favour, but
really in order to despoil him more easily of the considerable
property which he possessed at Janina.  Pacho was not deceived, and
showed his resentment openly.  "The wretch banishes me," he cried,
pointing out Ali, who was sitting at a window in the palace, "he
sends me away in order to rob me; but I will avenge myself whatever
happens, and I shall die content if I can procure his destruction at
the price of my own."

Continually increasing his power, Ali endeavoured to consolidate it
permanently.  He had entered by degrees into secret negotiations with
all the great powers of Europe, hoping in the end to make himself
independent, and to obtain recognition as Prince of Greece.  A
mysterious and unforeseen incident betrayed this to the Porte, and
furnished actual proofs of his treason in letters confirmed by Ali's
own seal.  The Sultan Selim immediately, sent to Janina a "kapidgi-
bachi," or plenipotentiary, to examine into the case and try
the delinquent.

Arrived at Janina, this officer placed before Ali the proofs of his
understanding with the enemies of the State.  Ali was not strong
enough to throw off the mask, and yet could not deny such
overwhelming evidence.  He determined to obtain time.

"No wonder," said he, "that I appear guilty in the eyes of His
Highness.  This seal is, certainly mine, I cannot deny it; but the
writing is not that of my secretaries, and the seal must have been
obtained and used to sign these guilty letters in order to ruin me.
I pray you to grant me a few days in order to clear up this
iniquitous mystery, which compromises me in the eyes of my master the
sultan and of all good Mahommedans.  May Allah grant me the means of
proving my innocence, which is as pure as the rays of the sun,
although everything seems against me!"

After this conference, Ali, pretending to be engaged in a secret
inquiry, considered how he could legally escape from this
predicament.  He spent some days in making plans which were given up
as soon as formed, until his fertile genius at length suggested a
means of getting clear of one of the greatest difficulties in which
he had ever found himself.  Sending for a Greek whom he had often
employed, he addressed him thus:

"Thou knowest I have always shown thee favour, and the day is arrived
when thy fortune shall be made.  Henceforth thou shalt be as my son,
thy children shall be as mine, my house shall be thy home, and in
return for my benefits I require one small service.  This accursed
kapidgi-bachi has come hither bringing certain papers signed with my
seal, intending to use them to my discredit, and thus to extort money
from me.  Of money I have already given too much, and I intend this
time to escape without being plundered except for the sake of a good
servant like thee.  Therefore, my son, thou shalt go before the
tribunal when I tell thee, and declare before this kapidgi-bachi and
the cadi that thou hast written these letters attributed to me, and
that thou didst seal them with my seal, in order to give them due
weight and importance."

The unhappy Greek grew pale and strove to answer.

"What fearest thou, my son?" resumed Ali.  "Speak, am I not thy good
master?  Thou wilt be sure of my lasting favour, and who is there to
dread when I protect thee?  Is it the kapidgi-bachi? he has no
authority here.  I have thrown twenty as good as he into the lake!
If more is required to reassure thee, I swear by the Prophet, by my

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: