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The Complete Celebrated Crimes by Alexander Dumas, Pere

Part 27 out of 33

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all overtures answered only, "Parga! I must have Parga."--And the
English were compelled to yield it!

Trusting to the word of General Campbell, who had formally promised,
on its surrender, that Parga should be classed along with the seven
Ionian Isles; its grateful inhabitants were enjoying a delicious rest
after the storm, when a letter from the Lord High Commissioner,
addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel de Bosset, undeceived them, and gave
warning of the evils which were to burst on the unhappy town.

On the 25th of March, 1817, notwithstanding the solemn promise made
to the Parganiotes, when they admitted the British troops, that they
should always be on the same footing as the Ionian Isles, a treaty
was signed at Constantinople by the British Plenipotentiary, which
stipulated the complete and stipulated cession of Parga and all its
territory to, the Ottoman Empire. Soon there arrived at Janine Sir
John Cartwright, the English Consul at Patras, to arrange for the
sale of the lands of the Parganiotes and discuss the conditions of
their emigration. Never before had any such compact disgraced
European diplomacy, accustomed hitherto to regard Turkish
encroachments as simple sacrilege. But Ali Pacha fascinated the
English agents, overwhelming them with favours, honours, and feasts,
carefully watching them all the while. Their correspondence was
intercepted, and he endeavoured by means of his agents to rouse the
Parganiotes against them. The latter lamented bitterly, and appealed
to Christian Europe, which remained deaf to their cries. In the name
of their ancestors, they demanded the rights which had been
guaranteed them. "They will buy our lands," they said; "have we
asked to sell them? And even if we received their value, can gold
give us a country and the tombs of our ancestors?"

Ali Pacha invited the Lord High Commissioner of Great Britain, Sir
Thomas Maitland, to a conference at Prevesa, and complained of the
exorbitant price of 1,500,000, at which the commissioners had
estimated Parga and its territory, including private property and
church furniture. It had been hoped that Ali's avarice would
hesitate at this high price, but he was not so easily discouraged.
He give a banquet for the Lord High Commissioner, which degenerated
into a shameless orgy. In the midst of this drunken hilarity the
Turk and the Englishman disposed of the territory of Parga; agreeing
that a fresh estimate should be made on the spot by experts chosen by
both English and Turks. The result of this valuation was that the
indemnity granted to the Christians was reduced by the English to the
sum of 276,075 sterling, instead of the original 500,000. And as
Ali's agents only arrived at the sum of 56,750, a final conference
was held at Buthrotum between Ali and the Lord High Commissioner.
The latter then informed the Parganiotes that the indemnity allowed
them was irrevocably fixed at 150,000! The transaction is a disgrace
to the egotistical and venal nation which thus allowed the life and
liberty of a people to be trifled with, a lasting blot on the honour
of England!

The Parganiotes at first could believe neither in the infamy of their
protectors nor in their own misfortune; but both were soon confirmed
by a proclamation of the Lord High Commissioner, informing them that
the pacha's army was marching to take possession of the territory
which, by May 10th, must be abandoned for ever.

The fields were then in full bearing. In the midst of plains
ripening for a rich harvest were 80,000 square feet of olive trees,
alone estimated at two hundred thousand guineas. The sun shone in
cloudless azure, the air was balmy with the scent of orange trees, of
pomegranates and citrons. But the lovely country might have been
inhabited by phantoms; only hands raised to heaven and brows bent to
the dust met one's eye. Even the very dust belonged no more to the
wretched inhabitants; they were forbidden to take a fruit or a
flower, the priests might not remove either relics or sacred images.
Church, ornaments, torches, tapers, pyxes, had by this treaty all
become Mahommedan property. The English had sold everything, even to
the Host! Two days more, and all must be left. Each was silently
marking the door of the dwelling destined so soon to shelter an
enemy, with a red cross, when suddenly a terrible cry echoed from
street to street, for the Turks had been perceived on the heights
overlooking the town. Terrified and despairing, the whole population
hastened to fall prostrate before the Virgin of Parga, the ancient
guardian of their citadel. A mysterious voice, proceeding from the
sanctuary, reminded them that the English had, in their iniquitous
treaty, forgotten to include the ashes of those whom a happier fate
had spared the sight of the ruin of Parga. Instantly they rushed to
the graveyards, tore open the tombs, and collected the bones and
putrefying corpses. The beautiful olive trees were felled, an
enormous funeral pyre arose, and in the general excitement the orders
of the English chief were defied. With naked daggers in their hands,
standing in the crimson light of the flames which were consuming the
bones of their ancestors, the people of Parga vowed to slay their
wives and children, and to kill themselves to the last man, if the
infidels dared to set foot in the town before the appointed hour.
Xenocles, the last of the Greek poets, inspired by this sublime
manifestation of despair, even as Jeremiah by the fall of Jerusalem,
improvised a hymn which expresses all the grief of the exiles, and
which the exiles interrupted by their tears and sobs.

A messenger, crossing the sea in all haste, informed the Lord High
Commissioner of the terrible threat of the Parganiotes. He started
at once, accompanied by General Sir Frederic Adams, and landed at
Parga by the light of the funeral pyre. He was received with
ill-concealed indignation, and with assurances that the sacrifice
would be at once consummated unless Ali's troops were held back. The
general endeavoured to console and to reassure the unhappy people,
and then proceeded to the outposts, traversing silent streets in
which armed men stood at each door only waiting a signal before
slaying their families, and then turning their weapons against the
English and themselves. He implored them to have patience, and they
answered by pointing to the approaching Turkish army and bidding him
hasten. He arrived at last and commenced negotiations, and the
Turkish officers, no less uneasy than the English garrison, promised
to wait till the appointed hour. The next day passed in mournful
silence, quiet as death, At sunset on the following day, May 9, 1819,
the English standard on the castle of Parga was hauled down, and
after a night spent in prayer and weeping, the Christians demanded
the signal of departure.

They had left their dwellings at break of day, and scattering on the
shore, endeavoured to collect some relics of their country. Some
filled little bags with ashes withdrawn from the funeral pile; others
took handfuls of earth, while the women and children picked up
pebbles which they hid in their clothing and pressed to their bosoms,
as if fearing to be deprived of them. Meanwhile, the ships intended
to transport them arrived, and armed English soldiers superintended
the embarkation, which the Turks hailed from afar with, ferocious
cries. The Parganiotes were landed in Corfu, where they suffered yet
more injustice. Under various pretexts the money promised them was
reduced and withheld, until destitution compelled them to accept the
little that was offered. Thus closed one of the most odious
transactions which modern history has been compelled to record.

The satrap of Janina had arrived at the fulfilment of his wishes. In
the retirement of his fairy-like palace by the lake he could enjoy
voluptuous pleasures to the full. But already seventy-eight years
had passed over his head, and old age had laid the burden of
infirmity upon him. His dreams were dreams of blood, and vainly he
sought refuge in chambers glittering with gold, adorned with
arabesques, decorated with costly armour and covered with the richest
of Oriental carpets, remorse stood ever beside him. Through the
magnificence which surrounded him there constantly passed the gale
spectre of Emineh, leading onwards a vast procession of mournful
phantoms, and the guilty pasha buried his face in his hands and
shrieked aloud for help. Sometimes, ashamed of his weakness, he
endeavoured to defy both the reproaches of his conscience and the
opinion of the multitude, and sought to encounter criticism with
bravado. If, by chance, he overheard some blind singer chanting in
the streets the satirical verses which, faithful to the poetical and
mocking genius of them ancestors, the Greeks frequently composed
about him, he would order the singer to be brought, would bid him
repeat his verses, and, applauding him, would relate some fresh
anecdote of cruelty, saying, "Go, add that to thy tale; let thy
hearers know what I can do; let them understand that I stop at
nothing in order to overcome my foes! If I reproach myself with
anything, it is only with the deeds I have sometimes failed to carry
out."

Sometimes it was the terrors of the life after death which assailed
him. The thought of eternity brought terrible visions in its train,
and Ali shuddered at the prospect of Al-Sirat, that awful bridge,
narrow as a spider's thread and hanging over the furnaces of Hell;
which a Mussulman must cross in order to arrive at the gate of
Paradise. He ceased to joke about Eblis, the Prince of Evil, and
sank by degrees into profound superstition. He was surrounded by
magicians and soothsayers; he consulted omens, and demanded talismans
and charms from the dervishes, which he had either sewn into his
garments, or suspended in the most secret parts of his palace, in
order to avert evil influences. A Koran was hung about his neck as a
defence against the evil eye, and frequently he removed it and knelt
before it, as did Louis XI before the leaden figures of saints which
adorned his hat. He ordered a complete chemical laboratory from
Venice, and engaged alchemists to distill the water of immortality,
by the help of which he hoped to ascend to the planets and discover
the Philosopher's Stone. Not perceiving any practical result of
their labours, he ordered, the laboratory to be burnt and the
alchemists to be hung.

Ali hated his fellow-men. He would have liked to leave no survivors,
and often regretted his inability to destroy all those who would have
cause to rejoice at his death, Consequently he sought to accomplish
as much harm as he could during the time which remained to him, and
for no possible reason but that of hatred, he caused the arrest of
both Ibrahim Pasha, who had already suffered so much at his hands,
and his son, and confined them both in a dungeon purposely
constructed under the grand staircase of the castle by the lake, in
order that he might have the pleasure of passing over their heads
each time he left his apartments or returned to them.

It was not enough for Ali merely to put to death those who displeased
him, the form of punishment must be constantly varied in order to
produce a fresh mode of suffering, therefore new tortures had to be
constantly invented. Now it was a servant, guilty of absence without
leave, who was bound to a stake in the presence of his sister, and
destroyed by a cannon placed six paces off, but only loaded with
powder, in order to prolong the agony; now, a Christian accused of
having tried to blow up Janina by introducing mice with tinder
fastened to their tails into the powder magazine, who was shut up in
the cage of Ali's favourite tiger and devoured by it.

The pasha despised the human race as much as he hated it. A European
having reproached him with the cruelty shown to his subjects, Ali
replied:--

"You do not understand the race with which I have to deal. Were I to
hang a criminal on yonder tree, the sight would not deter even his
own brother from stealing in the crowd at its foot. If I had an old
man burnt alive, his son would steal the ashes and sell them. The
rabble can be governed by fear only, and I am the one man who does it
successfully."

His conduct perfectly corresponded to his ideas. One great
feast-day, two gipsies devoted their lives in order to avert the evil
destiny of the pasha; and, solemnly convoking on their own heads all
misfortunes which might possibly befall him, cast themselves down
from the palace roof. One arose with difficulty, stunned and
suffering, the other remained on the ground with a broken leg. Ali
gave them each forty francs and an annuity of two pounds of maize
daily, and considering this sufficient, took no further trouble about
them.

Every year, at Ramadan, a large sum was distributed in alms among
poor women without distinction of sect. But Ali contrived to change
this act of benevolence into a barbarous form of amusement.

As he possessed several palaces in Janina at a considerable distance
from each other, the one at which a distribution was to take place
was each day publicly announced, and when the women had waited there
for an hour or two, exposed to sun, rain or cold, as the case might
be, they were suddenly informed that they must go to some other
palace, at the opposite end of the town. When they got there, they
usually had to wait for another hour, fortunate if they were not sent
off to a third place of meeting. When the time at length arrived, an
eunuch appeared, followed by Albanian soldiers armed with staves,
carrying a bag of money, which he threw by handfuls right into the
midst of the assembly. Then began a terrible uproar. The women
rushed to catch it, upsetting each other, quarreling, fighting, and
uttering cries of terror and pain, while the Albanians, pretending to
enforce order, pushed into the crowd, striking right and left with
their batons. The pacha meanwhile sat at a window enjoying the
spectacle, and impartially applauding all well delivered blows, no
matter whence they came. During these distributions, which really
benefitted no one, many women were always severely hurt, and some
died from the blows they had received.

Ali maintained several carriages for himself and his family, but
allowed no one else to share in this prerogative. To avoid being
jolted, he simply took up the pavement in Janina and the neighbouring
towns, with the result that in summer one was choked by dust, and in
winter could hardly get through the mud. He rejoiced in the public
inconvenience, and one day having to go out in heavy rain, he
remarked to one of the officers of his escort, "How delightful to be
driven through this in a carriage, while you will have the pleasure
of following on horseback! You will be wet and dirty, whilst I smoke
my pipe and laugh at your condition."

He could not understand why Western sovereigns should permit their
subjects to enjoy the same conveniences and amusements as themselves.
"If I had a theatre," he said, "I would allow no one to be present at
performances except my own children; but these idiotic Christians do
not know how to uphold their own dignity."

There was no end to the mystifications which it amused the pacha to
carry out with those who approached him.

One day he chose to speak Turkish to a Maltese merchant who came to
display some jewels. He was informed that the merchant understood
only Greek and Italian. He none the less continued his discourse
without allowing anyone to translate what he said into Greek. The
Maltese at length lost patience, shut up his cases, and departed.
Ali watched him with the utmost calm, and as he went out told him,
still in Turkish, to come again the next day.

An unexpected occurrence seemed, like the warning finger of Destiny,
to indicate an evil omen for the pacha's future. "Misfortunes arrive
in troops," says the forcible Turkish proverb, and a forerunner of
disasters came to Ali Dacha.

One morning he was suddenly roused by the Sheik Yussuf, who had
forced his way in, in spite of the guards. "Behold!" said he,
handing Ali a letter, "Allah, who punishes the guilty, has permitted
thy seraglio of Tepelen to be burnt. Thy splendid palace, thy
beautiful furniture, costly stuffs, cashmeers, furs, arms, all are
destroyed! And it is thy youngest and best beloved son, Salik Bey
himself, whose hand kindled the flames!" So saying; Yussuf turned
and departed, crying with a triumphant voice, "Fire! fire! fire!"

Ali instantly ordered his horse, and, followed by his guards, rode
without drawing rein to Tepelen. As soon as he arrived at the place
where his palace had formerly insulted the public misery, he hastened
to examine the cellars where his treasures were deposited. All was
intact, silver plate, jewels, and fifty millions of francs in gold,
enclosed in a well over which he had caused a tower to be built.
After this examination he ordered all the ashes to be carefully
sifted in hopes of recovering the gold in the tassels and fringes of
the sofas, and the silver from the plate and the armour. He next
proclaimed through the length and breadth of the land, that, being by
the hand of Allah deprived of his house, and no longer possessing
anything in his native town, he requested all who loved him to prove
their affection by bringing help in proportion. He fixed the day of
reception for each commune, and for almost each individual of any
rank, however small, according to their distance from Tepelen,
whither these evidences of loyalty were to be brought.

During five days Ali received these forced benevolences from all
parts. He sat, covered with rags, on a shabby palm-leaf mat placed.
at the outer gate of his ruined palace, holding in his left hand a
villainous pipe of the kind used by the lowest people, and in his
right an old red cap, which he extended for the donations of the
passers-by. Behind stood a Jew from Janina, charged with the office
of testing each piece of gold and valuing jewels which were offered
instead of money; for, in terror, each endeavoured to appear
generous. No means of obtaining a rich harvest were neglected; for
instance, Ali distributed secretly large sums among poor and obscure
people, such as servants, mechanics, and soldiers, in order that by
returning them in public they might appear to be making great
sacrifices, so that richer and more distinguished persons could not,
without appearing ill-disposed towards the pacha, offer only the same
amount as did the poor, but were obliged to present gifts of enormous
value.

After this charity extorted from their fears, the pacha's subjects
hoped to be at peace. But a new decree proclaimed throughout Albania
required them to rebuild and refurnish the formidable palace of
Tepelen entirely at the public expense. Ali then returned to Janina,
followed by his treasure and a few women who had escaped from the
flames, and whom he disposed of amongst his friends, saying that he
was no longer sufficiently wealthy to maintain so many slaves.

Fate soon provided him with a second opportunity for amassing wealth.
Arta, a wealthy town with a Christian population, was ravaged by the
plague, and out of eight thousand inhabitants, seven thousand were
swept away. Hearing this, Ali hastened to send commissioners to
prepare an account of furniture and lands which the pacha claimed as
being heir to his subjects. A few livid and emaciated spectres were
yet to be found in the streets of Arta. In order that the inventory
might be more complete, these unhappy beings were compelled to wash
in the Inachus blankets, sheets, and clothes steeped in bubonic
infection, while the collectors were hunting everywhere for imaginary
hidden treasure. Hollow trees were sounded, walls pulled down, the
most unlikely corners examined, and a skeleton which was discovered
still girt with a belt containing Venetian sequins was gathered up
with the utmost care. The archons of the town were arrested and
tortured in the hope of discovering buried treasure, the clue to
which had disappeared along with the owners. One of these magistrates,
accused of having hidden some valuable objects, was plunged up to his
shoulders in a boiler full of melted lead and boiling oil. Old men,
women, children, rich and poor alike, were interrogated, beaten, and
compelled to abandon the last remains of their property in order to
save their lives.

Having thus decimated the few inhabitants remaining to the town, it
became necessary to repeople it. With this object in view, Ali's
emissaries overran the villages of Thessaly, driving before them all.
the people they met in flocks, and compelling them to settle in Arta.
These unfortunate colonists were also obliged to find money to pay
the pacha for the houses they were forced to occupy.

This business being settled, Ali turned to another which had long
been on his mind. We have seen how Ismail Pacho Bey escaped the
assassins sent to murder him. A ship, despatched secretly from
Prevesa, arrived at the place of his retreat. The captain, posing as
a merchant, invited Ismail to come on board and inspect his goods.
But the latter, guessing a trap, fled promptly, and for some time all
trace of him was lost. Ali, in revenge, turned his wife out of the
palace at Janina which she still occupied, and placed her in a
cottage, where she was obliged to earn a living by spinning. But he
did not stop there, and learning after some time that Pacho Bey had
sought refuge with the Nazir of Drama, who had taken him into favour,
he resolved to strike a last blow, more sure and more terrible than
the others. Again Ismail's lucky star saved him from the plots of
his enemy. During a hunting party he encountered a kapidgi-bachi, or
messenger from the sultan, who asked him where he could find the
Nazir, to whom he was charged with an important communication. As
kapidgi-bachis are frequently bearers of evil tidings, which it is
well to ascertain at once, and as the Nazir was at some distance,
Pacho Bey assumed the latter's part, and the sultan's confidential
messenger informed him that he was the bearer of a firman granted at
the request of Ali Pacha of Janina,

"Ali of Tepelenir. He is my friend. How can I serve him?"

"By executing the present order, sent you by the Divan, desiring you
to behead a traitor, named Pacho Bey, who crept into your service a
short time ago.

"Willingly I but he is not an easy man to seize being brave,
vigorous, clever, and cunning. Craft will be necessary in this case.
He may appear at any moment, and it is advisable that he should not
see you. Let no one suspect who you are, but go to Drama, which is
only two hours distant, and await me there. I shall return this
evening, and you can consider your errand as accomplished."

The kapidgi-bachi made a sign of comprehension, and directed his
course towards Drama; while Ismail, fearing that the Nazir, who had
only known him a short time, would sacrifice him with the usual
Turkish indifference, fled in the opposite direction. At the end of
an hour he encountered a Bulgarian monk, with whom he exchanged
clothes--a disguise which enabled him to traverse Upper Macedonia in
safety. Arriving at the great Servian convent in the mountains
whence the Axius takes its rise, he obtained admission under an
assumed name. But feeling sure of the discretion of the monks, after
a few days he explained his situation to them.

Ali, learning the ill-success of his latest stratagem, accused the
Nazir of conniving at Paeho Bey's escape. But the latter easily
justified himself with the Divan by giving precise information of
what had really occurred. This was what Ali wanted, who profited
thereby in having the fugitive's track followed up, and soon got wind
of his retreat. As Pacho Bey's innocence had been proved in the
explanations given to the Porte, the death firman obtained against
him became useless, and Ali affected to abandon him to his fate, in
order the better to conceal the new plot he was conceiving against
him.

Athanasius Vaya, chief assassin of the Kardikiotes, to whom Ali
imparted his present plan for the destruction of Ismail, begged for
the honour of putting it into execution, swearing that this time
Ismail should not escape. The master and the instrument disguised
their scheme under the appearance of a quarrel, which astonished the
whole town. At the end of a terrible scene which took place in
public, Ali drove the confidant of his crimes from the palace,
overwhelming him with insults, and declaring that were Athanasius not
the son of his children's foster-mother, he would have sent him to
the gibbet. He enforced his words by the application of a stick, and
Vaya, apparently overwhelmed by terror and affliction, went round to
all the nobles of the town, vainly entreating them to intercede for
him. The only favour which Mouktar Pacha could obtain for him was a
sentence of exile allowing him to retreat to Macedonia.

Athanasius departed from Janina with all the demonstrations of utter
despair, and continued his route with the haste of one who fears
pursuit. Arrived in Macedonia, he assumed the habit of a monk, and
undertook a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, saying that both the disguise
and the journey were necessary to his safety. On the way he
encountered one of the itinerant friars of the great Servian convent,
to whom he described his disgrace in energetic terms, begging him to
obtain his admission among the lay brethren of his monastery.

Delighted at the prospect of bringing back to the fold of the Church
a man so notorious for his crimes, the friar hastened to inform his
superior, who in his turn lost no time in announcing to Pacho Bey
that his compatriot and companion in misfortune was to be received
among the lay brethren, and in relating the history of Athanasius as
he himself had heard it. Pacho Bey, however, was not easily
deceived, and at once guessing that Vaya's real object was his own
assassination, told his doubts to the superior, who had already
received him as a friend. The latter retarded the reception of Vaya
so as to give Pacho time to escape and take the road to Constantinople.
Once arrived there, he determined to brave the storm and encounter
Ali openly.

Endowed by nature with a noble presence and with masculine firmness,
Pacho Bey possessed also the valuable gift of speaking all the
various tongues of the Ottoman Empire. He could not fail to
distinguish himself in the capital and to find an opening for his
great talents. But his inclination drove him at first to seek his
fellow-exiles from Epirus, who were either his old companions in
arms, friends, of relations, for he was allied to all the principal
families, and was even, through his wife, nearly connected with his
enemy, Ali Pacha himself.

He had learnt what this unfortunate lady had already endured on his
account, and feared that she would suffer yet more if he took active
measures against the pacha. While he yet hesitated between affection
and revenge, he heard that she had died of grief and misery. Now
that despair had put an end to uncertainty, he set his hand to the
work.

At this precise moment Heaven sent him a friend to console and aid
him in his vengeance, a Christian from OEtolia, Paleopoulo by name.
This man was on the point of establishing himself in Russian
Bessarabia, when he met Pacho Bey and joined with him in the singular
coalition which was to change the fate of the Tepelenian dynasty.

Paleopoulo reminded his companion in misfortune of a memorial
presented to the Divan in 1812, which had brought upon Ali a disgrace
from which he only escaped in consequence of the overwhelming
political events which just then absorbed the attention of the
Ottoman Government. The Grand Seigneur had sworn by the tombs of his
ancestors to attend to the matter as soon as he was able, and it was
only requisite to remind him of his vow. Pacho Hey and his friend
drew up a new memorial, and knowing the sultan's avarice, took care
to dwell on the immense wealth possessed by Ali, on his scandalous
exactions, and on the enormous sums diverted from the Imperial
Treasury. By overhauling the accounts of his administration,
millions might be recovered. To these financial considerations Pacho
Bey added some practical ones. Speaking as a man sure of his facts
and well acquainted with the ground, he pledged his head that with
twenty thousand men he would, in spite of Ali's troops and
strongholds, arrive before Janina without firing a musket.

However good these plans appeared, they were by no means to the taste
of the sultan's ministers, who were each and all in receipt of large
pensions from the man at whom they struck. Besides, as in Turkey it
is customary for the great fortunes of Government officials to be
absorbed on their death by the Imperial Treasury, it of course
appeared easier to await the natural inheritance of Ali's treasures
than to attempt to seize them by a war which would certainly absorb
part of them. Therefore, while Pacho Bey's zeal was commended, he
obtained only dilatory answers, followed at length by a formal
refusal.

Meanwhile, the old OEtolian, Paleopoulo, died, having prophesied the
approaching Greek insurrection among his friends, and pledged Pacho
Bey to persevere in his plans of vengeance, assuring him that before
long Ali would certainly fall a victim to them. Thus left alone,
Pacho, before taking any active steps in his work of vengeance,
affected to give himself up to the strictest observances of the
Mohammedan religion. Ali, who had established a most minute
surveillance over his actions, finding that his time was spent with
ulemas and dervishes, imagined that he had ceased to be dangerous,
and took no further trouble about him.

CHAPTER VIII

A career of successful crime had established Ali's rule over a
population equal to that of the two kingdoms of Sweden and Norway.
But his ambition was not yet satisfied. The occupation of Parga did
not crown his desires, and the delight which it caused him was much
tempered by the escape of the Parganiotes, who found in exile a safe
refuge from his persecution. Scarcely had he finished the conquest
of Middle Albania before he was exciting a faction against the young
Moustai Pacha in Scodra, a new object of greed. He also kept an army
of spies in Wallachia, Moldavia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and, thanks
to them, he appeared to be everywhere present, and was mixed up in
every intrigue, private or political, throughout the empire. He had
paid the English agents the price agreed on for Parga, but he repaid
himself five times over, by gifts extorted from his vassals, and by
the value of the Parga lands, now become his property. His palace of
Tepelen had been rebuilt at the public expense, and was larger and
more magnificent than before; Janina was embellished with new
buildings; elegant pavilions rose on the shores of the lake; in
short, Ali's luxury was on a level with his vast riches. His sons
and grandsons were provided for by important positions, and Ali
himself was sovereign prince in everything but the name.

There was no lack of flattery, even from literary persons. At Vienna
a poem was pointed in his honour, and a French-Greek Grammar was
dedicated to him, and such titles as "Most Illustrious, "Most
Powerful," and "Most Clement," were showered upon him, as upon a man
whose lofty virtues and great exploits echoed through the world.
A native of Bergamo, learned in heraldry, provided him with a coat of
arms, representing, on a field gules, a lion, embracing three cubs,
emblematic of the Tepelenian dynasty. Already he had a consul at
Leucadia accepted by the English, who, it is said, encouraged him to
declare himself hereditary Prince of Greece, under the nominal
suzerainty of the sultan; their real intention being to use him as a
tool in return for their protection, and to employ him as a political
counter-balance to the hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, who for
the last twenty years had been simply Russian agents in disguise,
This was not all; many of the adventurers with whom the Levant
swarms, outlaws from every country, had found a refuge in Albania,
and helped not a little to excite Ali's ambition by their
suggestions. Some of these men frequently saluted him as King, a
title which he affected to reject with indignation; and he disdained
to imitate other states by raising a private standard of his own,
preferring not to compromise his real power by puerile displays of
dignity; and he lamented the foolish ambition of his children, who
would ruin him, he said, by aiming, each, at becoming a vizier.
Therefore he did not place his hope or confidence in them, but in the
adventurers of every sort and kind, pirates, coiners, renegades,
assassins, whom he kept in his pay and regarded as his best support.
These he sought to attach to his person as men who might some day be
found useful, for he did not allow the many favours of fortune to
blind him to the real danger of his position. A vizier," he was
answered, "resembles a man wrapped in costly furs, but he sits on a
barrel of powder, which only requires a spark to explode it." The
Divan granted all the concessions which Ali demanded, affecting
ignorance of his projects of revolt and his intelligence with the
enemies of the State; but then apparent weakness was merely prudent
temporising. It was considered that Ali, already advanced in years,
could not live much longer, and it was hoped that, at his death,
Continental Greece, now in some measure detached from the Ottoman
rule, would again fall under the sultan's sway.

Meanwhile, Pacho Bey, bent on silently undermining Ali's influence;
had established himself as an intermediary for all those who came to
demand justice on account of the pacha's exactions, and he contrived
that both his own complaints and those of his clients, should
penetrate to the ears of the sultan; who, pitying his misfortunes,
made him a kapidgi-bachi, as a commencement of better things. About
this time the sultan also admitted to the Council a certain Abdi
Effendi of Larissa, one of the richest nobles of Thessaly, who had
been compelled by the tyranny of Veli Pacha to fly from his country.
The two new dignitaries, having secured Khalid Effendi as a partisan,
resolved to profit by his influence to carry out their plans of
vengeance on the Tepelenian family. The news of Pacho Bey's
promotion roused Ali from the security in which he was plunged, and
he fell a prey to the most lively anxiety. Comprehending at once the
evil which this man,--trained in his own school, might cause him, he
exclaimed, "Ah! if Heaven would only restore me the strength of my
youth, I would plunge my sword into his heart even in the midst of
the Divan."

It was not long before Ali's enemies found an extremely suitable
opportunity for opening their attack. Veli Pacha, who had for his
own profit increased the Thessalian taxation fivefold, had in doing
so caused so much oppression that many of the inhabitants preferred
the griefs and dangers of emigration rather than remain under so
tyrannical a rule. A great number of Greeks sought refuge at Odessa,
and the great Turkish families assembled round Pacho Bey and Abdi
Effendi at Constantinople, who lost no opportunity of interceding in
their favour. The sultan, who as yet did not dare to act openly
against the Tepelenian family, was at least able to relegate Veli to
the obscure post of Lepanto, and Veli, much disgusted, was obliged to
obey. He quitted the new palace he had just built at Rapehani, and
betook himself to the place of exile, accompanied by actors, Bohemian
dancers, bear leaders, and a crowd of prostitutes.

Thus attacked in the person of his most powerful son, Ali thought to
terrify his enemies by a daring blow. He sent three Albanians to
Constantinople to assassinate Pacho Bey. They fell upon him as he
was proceeding to the Mosque of Saint-Sophia, on the day on which the
sultan also went in order to be present at the Friday ceremonial
prayer, and fired several shots at him. He was wounded, but not
mortally.

The assassins, caught red-handed, were hung at the gate of the
Imperial Seraglio, but not before confessing that they were sent by
the Pacha of Janina. The Divan, comprehending at last that so
dangerous a man must be dealt with at any cost, recapitulated all
Ali's crimes, and pronounced a sentence against him which was
confirmed by a decree of the Grand Mufti. It set forth that Ali
Tepelen, having many times obtained pardon for his crimes, was now
guilty of high treason in the first degree, and that he would, as
recalcitrant, be placed under the ban of the Empire if he did not
within forty days appear at the Gilded Threshold of the Felicitous
Gate of the Monarch who dispenses crowns to the princes who reign in
this world, in order to justify himself. As may be supposed,
submission to such an order was about the last thing Ali
contemplated. As he failed to appear, the Divan caused the Grand
Mufti to launch the thunder of excommunication against him.

Ali had just arrived at Parga, which he now saw for the third time
since he had obtained it, when his secretaries informed him that only
the rod of Moses could save him from the anger of Pharaoh--a
figurative mode of warning him that he had nothing to hope for. But
Ali, counting on his usual luck, persisted in imagining that he
could, once again, escape from his difficulty by the help of gold and
intrigue. Without discontinuing the pleasures in which he was
immersed, he contented himself with sending presents and humble
petitions to Constantinople. But both were alike useless, for no one
even ventured to transmit them to the sultan, who had sworn to cut
off the head of anyone who dared mention the name of Ali Tepelen in
his presence.

Receiving no answer to his overtures, Ali became a prey to terrible
anxiety. As he one day opened the Koran to consult it as to his
future, his divining rod stopped at verse 82, chap. xix., which says,
"He doth flatter himself in vain. He shall appear before our
tribunal naked and bare." Ali closed the book and spat three times
into his bosom. He was yielding to the most dire presentiments, when
a courier, arriving from the capital, informed him that all hope of
pardon was lost.

He ordered his galley to be immediately prepared, and left his
seraglio, casting a look of sadness on the beautiful gardens where
only yesterday he had received the homage of his prostrate slaves.
He bade farewell to his wives, saying that he hoped soon to return,
and descended to the shore, where the rowers received him with
acclamations. The sail was set to a favourable breeze, and Ali,
leaving the shore he was never to see again, sailed towards Erevesa,
where he hoped to meet the Lord High Commissioner Maitland. But the
time of prosperity had gone by, and the regard which had once been
shown him changed with his fortunes. The interview he sought was not
granted.

The sultan now ordered a fleet to be equipped, which, after Ramadan,
was to disembark troops on the coast of Epirus, while all the
neighbouring pashas received orders to hold themselves in readiness
to march with all the troops of their respective Governments against
Ali, whose name was struck out of the list of viziers. Pacho Bey was
named Pasha of Janina and Delvino on condition of subduing them, and
was placed in command of the whole expedition.

However, notwithstanding these orders, there was not at the beginning
of April, two months after the attempted assassination of Pacho Bey,
a single soldier ready to march on Albania. Ramadan, that year, did
not close until the new moon of July. Had Ali put himself boldly at
the head of the movement which was beginning to stir throughout
Greece, he might have baffled these vacillating projects, and
possibly dealt a fatal blow to the Ottoman Empire. As far back as
1808, the Hydriotes had offered to recognise his son Veli, then
Vizier of the Morea, as their Prince, and to support him in every
way, if he would proclaim the independence of the Archipelago. The
Moreans bore him no enmity until he refused to help them to freedom,
and would have returned to him had he consented.

On the other side, the sultan, though anxious for war, would not
spend a penny in order to wage it; and it was not easy to corrupt
some of the great vassals ordered to march at their own expense
against a man in whose downfall they had no special interest. Nor
were the means of seduction wanting to Ali, whose wealth was
enormous; but he preferred to keep it in order to carry on the war
which he thought he could no longer escape. He made, therefore, a
general appeal to all Albanian warriors, whatever their religion.
Mussulmans and Christians, alike attracted by the prospect of booty
and good pay, flocked to his standard in crowds.

He organised all these adventurers on the plan of the Armatous, by
companies, placing a captain of his own choice at the head of each,
and giving each company a special post to defend. Of all possible
plans this was the best adapted to his country, where only a guerilla
warfare can be carried on, and where a large army could not subsist.

In repairing to the posts assigned to them, these troops committed
such terrible depredations that the provinces sent to Constantinople
demanding their suppression. The Divan answered the petitioners that
it was their own business to suppress these disorders, and to induce
the Klephotes to turn their arms against Ali, who had nothing to hope
from the clemency of the Grand Seigneur. At the same time circular
letters were addressed to the Epirotes, warning them to abandon the
cause of a rebel, and to consider the best means of freeing
themselves from a traitor, who, having long oppressed them, now
sought to draw down on their country all the terrors of war. Ali,
who every where maintained numerous and active spies, now redoubled
his watchfulness, and not a single letter entered Epirus without
being opened and read by his agents. As an extra precaution, the
guardians of the passes were enjoined to slay without mercy any
despatch-bearer not provided with an order signed by Ali himself; and
to send to Janina under escort any travellers wishing to enter
Epirus. These measures were specially aimed against Suleyman Pacha,
who had succeeded Veli in the government of Thessaly, and replaced
Ali himself in the office of Grand Provost of the Highways.
Suleyman's secretary was a Greek called Anagnorto, a native of
Macedonia, whose estates Ali had seized, and who had fled with his
family to escape further persecution. He had become attached to the
court party, less for the sake of vengeance on Ali than to aid the
cause of the Greeks, for whose freedom he worked by underhand
methods. He persuaded Suleyman Pacha that the Greeks would help him
to dethrone Ali, for whom they cherished the deepest hatred, and he
was determined that they should learn the sentence of deprivation and
excommunication fulminated against the rebel pacha. He introduced
into the Greek translation which he was commissioned to make,
ambiguous phrases which were read by the Christians as a call to take
up arms in the cause of liberty. In an instant, all Hellas was up in
arms. The Mohammedans were alarmed, but the Greeks gave out that it
was in order to protect themselves and their property against the
bands of brigands which had appeared on all sides. This was the
beginning of the Greek insurrection, and occurred in May 1820,
extending from Mount Pindus to Thermopylae. However, the Greeks,
satisfied with having vindicated their right to bear arms in their
own defence, continued to pay their taxes, and abstained from all
hostility.

At the news of this great movement, Ali's friends advised him to turn
it to his own advantage. "The Greeks in arms," said they, "want a
chief: offer yourself as their leader. They hate you, it is true,
but this feeling may change. It is only necessary to make them
believe, which is easily done, that if they will support your cause
you will embrace Christianity and give them freedom."

There was no time to lose, for matters became daily more serious.
Ali hastened to summon what he called a Grand Divan, composed of the
chiefs of both sects, Mussulmans and Christians. There were
assembled men of widely different types, much astonished at finding
themselves in company: the venerable Gabriel, Archbishop of Janina,
and uncle of the unfortunate Euphrosyne, who had been dragged thither
by force; Abbas, the old head of the police, who had presided at the
execution of the Christian martyr; the holy bishop of Velas, still
bearing the marks of the chains with which Ali had loaded him; and
Porphyro, Archbishop of Arta, to whom the turban would have been more
becoming than the mitre.

Ashamed of the part he was obliged to play, Ali, after long
hesitation, decided on speaking, and, addressing the Christians,
"O Greeks!" he said, "examine my conduct with unprejudiced minds, and
you will see manifest proofs of the confidence and consideration
which I have ever shown you. What pacha has ever treated you as I
have done? Who would have treated your priests and the objects of
your worship with as much respect? Who else would have conceded the
privileges which you enjoy? for you hold rank in my councils, and
both the police and the administration of my States are in your
hands. I do not, however, seek to deny the evils with which I have
afflicted you; but, alas! these evils have been the result of my
enforced obedience to the cruel and perfidious orders of the Sublime
Porte. It is to the Porte that these wrongs must be attributed, for
if my actions be attentively regarded it will be seen that I only did
harm when compelled thereto by the course of events. Interrogate my
actions, they will speak more fully than a detailed apology.

"My position with regard to the Suliotes allowed no half-and-half
measures. Having once broken with them, I was obliged either to
drive them from my country or to exterminate them. I understood the
political hatred of the Ottoman Cabinet too well not to know that it
would declare war against me sooner or later, and I knew that
resistance would be impossible, if on one side I had to repel the
Ottoman aggression, and on the other to fight against the formidable
Suliotes.

"I might say the same of the Parganiotes. You know that their town
was the haunt of my enemies, and each time that I appealed to them to
change their ways they answered only with insults and threats. They
constantly aided the Suliotes with whom I was at war; and if at this
moment they still were occupying Parga, you would see them throw open
the gates of Epirus to the forces of the sultan. But all this does
not prevent my being aware that my enemies blame me severely, and
indeed I also blame myself, and deplore the faults which the
difficulty of my position has entailed upon me. Strong in my
repentance, I do not hesitate to address myself to those whom I have
most grievously wounded. Thus I have long since recalled to my
service a great number of Suliotes, and those who have responded to
my invitation are occupying important posts near my person. To
complete the reconciliation, I have written to those who are still in
exile, desiring them to return fearlessly to their country, and I
have certain information that this proposal has been everywhere
accepted with enthusiasm. The Suliotes will soon return to their
ancestral houses, and, reunited under my standard, will join me in
combating the Osmanlis, our common enemies.

"As to the avarice of which I am accused, it seems easily justified
by the constant necessity I was under of satisfying the inordinate
cupidity of the Ottoman ministry, which incessantly made me pay
dearly for tranquillity. This was a personal affair, I acknowledge,
and so also is the accumulation of treasure made in order to support
the war, which the Divan has at length declared."

Here Ali ceased, then having caused a barrel full of gold pieces to
be emptied on the floor, he continued:

"Behold a part of the treasure I have preserved with so much care,
and which has been specially obtained from the Turks, our common
enemies: it is yours. I am now more than ever delighted at being the
friend of the Greeks. Their bravery is a sure earnest of victory,
and we will shortly re-establish the Greek Empire, and drive the
Osmanlis across the Bosphorus. O bishops and priests of Issa the
prophet! bless the arms of the Christians, your children. O
primates! I call upon you to defend your rights, and to rule justly
the brave nation associated with my interests."

This discourse produced very different impressions on the Christian
priests and archons. Some replied only by raising looks of despair
to Heaven, others murmured their adhesion. A great number remained
uncertain, not knowing what to decide. The Mirdite chief, he who had
refused to slaughter the Kardikiotes, declared that neither he nor
any Skipetar of the Latin communion would bear arms against their
legitimate sovereign the sultan. But his words were drowned by cries
of "Long live Ali Pasha! Long live the restorer of liberty!" uttered
by some chiefs of adventurers and brigands.

CHAPTER IX

Yet next day, May 24th, 1820, Ali addressed a circular letter to his
brothers the Christians, announcing that in future he would consider
them as his most faithful subjects, and that henceforth he remitted
the taxes paid to his own family. He wound up by asking for
soldiers, but the Greeks having learnt the instability of his
promises, remained deaf to his invitations. At the same time he sent
messengers to the Montenegrins and the Servians, inciting them to
revolt, and organised insurrections in Wallachia and Moldavia to the
very environs of Constantinople.

Whilst the Ottoman vassals assembled only in small numbers and very
slowly under their respective standards, every day there collected
round the castle of Janina whole companies of Toxidae, of Tapazetae,
and of Chamidae; so that Ali, knowing that Ismail Pacho Bey had
boasted that he could arrive in sight of Janina without firing a gun,
said in his turn that he would not treat with the Porte until he and
his troops should be within eight leagues of Constantinople.

He had fortified and supplied with munitions of war Ochrida, Avlone,
Cannia, Berat, Cleisoura, Premiti, the port of Panormus,
Santi-Quaranta, Buthrotum, Delvino, Argyro-Castron, Tepelen, Parga,
Prevesa, Sderli, Paramythia, Arta, the post of the Five Wells, Janina
and its castles. These places contained four hundred and twenty
cannons of all sizes, for the most part in bronze, mounted on
siege-carriages, and seventy mortars. Besides these, there were in
the castle by the lake, independently of the guns in position, forty
field-pieces, sixty mountain guns, a number of Congreve rockets,
formerly given him by the English, and an enormous quantity of
munitions of war. Finally, he endeavoured to establish a line of
semaphores between Janina and Prevesa, in order to have prompt news
of the Turkish fleet, which was expected to appear on this coast.

Ali, whose strength seemed to increase with age, saw to everything
and appeared everywhere; sometimes in a litter borne by his
Albanians, sometimes in a carriage raised into a kind of platform,
but it was more frequently on horseback that he appeared among his
labourers. Often he sat on the bastions in the midst of the
batteries, and conversed familiarly with those who surrounded him.
He narrated the successes formerly obtained against the sultan by
Kara Bazaklia, Vizier of Scodra, who, like himself, had been attained
with the sentence of deprivation and excommunication; recounting how
the rebel pacha, shut up in his citadel with seventy-two warriors,
had seen collapse at his feet the united forces of four great
provinces of the Ottoman Empire, commanded by twenty-two pachas, who
were almost entirely annihilated in one day by the Guegues. He
reminded them also, of the brilliant victory gained by Passevend
Oglon, Pacha of Widdin, of quite recent memory, which is celebrated
in the warlike songs of the Klephts of Roumelia.

Almost simultaneously, Ali's sons, Mouktar and Veli, arrived at
Janina. Veli had been obliged, or thought himself obliged, to
evacuate Lepanto by superior forces, and brought only discouraging
news, especially as to the wavering fidelity of the Turks. Mouktar,
on the contrary, who had just made a tour of inspection in the
Musache, had only noticed favourable dispositions, and deluded
himself with the idea that the Chaonians, who had taken up arms, had
done so in order to aid his father. He was curiously mistaken, for
these tribes hated Ali with a hatred all the deeper for being
compelled to conceal it, and were only in arms in order to repel
aggression.

The advice given by the sons to their father as to the manner of
treating the Mohammedans differed widely in accordance with their
respective opinions. Consequently a violent quarrel arose between
them, ostensibly on account of this dispute, but in reality on the
subject of their father's inheritance, which both equally coveted.
Ali had brought all his treasure to Janina, and thenceforth neither
son would leave the neighbourhood of so excellent a father. They
overwhelmed him with marks of affection, and vowed that the one had
left Lepanto, and the other Berat, only in order to share his danger.
Ali was by no means duped by these protestations, of which he divined
the motive only too well, and though he had never loved his sons, he
suffered cruelly in discovering that he was not beloved by them.

Soon he had other troubles to endure. One of his gunners
assassinated a servant of Vela's, and Ali ordered the murderer to be
punished, but when the sentence was to be carried out the whole corps
of artillery mutinied. In order to save appearances, the pacha was
compelled to allow them to ask for the pardon of the criminal whom he
dared not punish. This incident showed him that his authority was no
longer paramount, and he began to doubt the fidelity of his soldiers.
The arrival of the Ottoman fleet further enlightened him to his true
position. Mussulman and Christian alike, all the inhabitants of
Northern Albania, who had hitherto concealed their disaffection under
an exaggerated semblance of devotion, now hastened to make their
submission to the sultan. The Turks, continuing their success, laid
siege to Parga, which was held by Mehemet, Veli's eldest son. He was
prepared to make a good defence, but was betrayed by his troops, who
opened the gates of the town, and he was compelled to surrender at
discretion. He was handed over to the commander of the naval forces,
by whom he was well treated, being assigned the best cabin in the
admiral's ship and given a brilliant suite. He was assured that the
sultan, whose only quarrel was with his grandfather, would show him
favour, and would even deal mercifully with Ali, who, with his
treasures, would merely be sent to an important province in Asia
Minor. He was induced to write in this strain to his family and
friends in order to induce them to lay down their arms.

The fall of Parga made a great impression on the Epirotes, who valued
its possession far above its real importance. Ali rent his garments
and cursed the days of his former good fortune, during which he had
neither known how to moderate his resentment nor to foresee the
possibility of any change of fortune.

The fall of Parga was succeeded by that of Arta of Mongliana, where
was situated Ali's country house, and of the post of the Five Wells.
Then came a yet more overwhelming piece of news Omar Brionis, whom
Ali, having formerly despoiled of its wealth, had none the less,
recently appointed general-in-chief, had gone over to the enemy with
all his troops!

Ali then decided on carrying out a project he had formed in case of
necessity, namely, on destroying the town of Janina, which would
afford shelter to the enemy and a point of attack against the
fortresses in which he was entrenched. When this resolution was
known, the inhabitants thought only of saving themselves and their
property from the ruin from which nothing could save their country.
But most of them were only preparing to depart, when Ali gave leave
to the Albanian soldiers yet faithful to him to sack the town.

The place was immediately invaded by an unbridled soldiery. The
Metropolitan church, where Greeks and Turks alike deposited their
gold, jewels, and merchandise, even as did the Greeks of old in the
temples of the gods, became the first object of pillage. Nothing was
respected. The cupboards containing sacred vestments were broken
open, so were the tombs of the archbishops, in which were interred
reliquaries adorned with precious stones; and the altar itself was
defiled with the blood of ruffians who fought for chalices and silver
crosses.

The town presented an equally terrible spectacle; neither Christians
nor Mussulmans were spared, and the women's apartments, forcibly
entered, were given up to violence. Some of the more courageous
citizens endeavoured to defend their houses arid families against
these bandits, and the clash of arms mingled with cries and groans.
All at on e the roar of a terrible explosion rose above the other
sounds, and a hail of bombs, shells, grenade's, and rockets carried
devastation and fire into the different quarters of the town, which
soon presented the spectacle of an immense conflagration. Ali,
seated on the great platform of the castle by the lake, which seemed
to vomit fire like a volcano, directed the bombardment, pointing out
the places which must be burnt. Churches, mosques, libraries,
bazaars, houses, all were destroyed, and the only thing spared by the
flames was the gallows, which remained standing in the midst of the
ruins.

Of the thirty thousand persons who inhabited Janina a few hours
previously, perhaps one half had escaped. But these had not fled
many leagues before they encountered the outposts of the Otto man
army, which, instead of helping or protecting them, fell upon them,
plundered them, and drove them towards the camp, where slavery
awaited them. The unhappy fugitives, taken thus between fire and.
sword, death behind and slavery before, uttered a terrible cry, and
fled in all directions. Those who escaped the Turks were stopped in
the hill passes by the mountaineers rushing down to the>> rey; only
large numbers who held together could force a passage.

In some cases terror bestows extraordinary strength, there were
mothers who, with infants at the breast, covered on foot in one day
the fourteen leagues which separate Janina from Arta. But others,
seized with the pangs of travail in the midst of their flight,
expired in the woods, after giving birth to babes, who, destitute of
succour, did not survive their mothers. And young girls, having
disfigured themselves by gashes, hid themselves in caves, where they
died of terror and hunger.

The Albanians, intoxicated with plunder and debauchery, refused to
return to the castle, and only thought of regaining their country and
enjoying the fruit of their rapine. But they were assailed on the
way by peasants covetous of their booty, and by those of Janina who
had sought refuge with them. The roads and passes were strewn with
corpses, and the trees by the roadside converted into gibbets. The
murderers did not long survive their victims.

The ruins of Janina were still smoking when, on the 19th August,
Pacho Bey made his entry. Having pitched his tent out of range of
Ali's cannon, he proclaimed aloud the firman which inaugurated him as
Pacha of Janina and Delvino, and then raised the tails, emblem of his
dignity. Ali heard on the summit of his keep the acclamations of the
Turks who saluted Pacho Bey, his former servant with the titles of
Vali of Epirus, and Ghazi, of Victorius. After this ceremony, the
cadi read the sentence, confirmed by the Mufti, which declared
Tepelen Veli-Zade to have forfeited his dignities and to be
excommunicated, adding an injunction to all the faithful that
henceforth his name was not to be pronounced except with the addition
of "Kara," or "black," which is bestowed on those cut off from the
congregation of Sunnites, or Orthodox Mohammedans. A Marabout then
cast a stone towards the castle, and the anathema upon "Kara Ali" was
repeated by the whole Turkish army, ending with the cry of "Long live
the sultan! So be it!"

But it was not by ecclesiastical thunders that three fortresses could
be reduced, which were defended by artillerymen drawn from different
European armies, who had established an excellent school for gunners
and bombardiers. The besieged, having replied with hootings of
contempt to the acclamations of the besiegers, proceeded to enforce
their scorn with well-aimed cannon shots, while the rebel flotilla,
dressed as if for a fete-day, passed slowly before the Turks,
saluting them with cannon-shot if they ventured near the edge of the
lake.

This noisy rhodomontade did not prevent Ali from being consumed with
grief and anxiety. The sight of his own troops, now in the camp of
Pacho Bey, the fear of being for ever separated from his sons, the
thought of his grandson in the enemy's hands, all threw him into the
deepest melancholy, and his sleepless eyes were constantly drowned in
tears. He refused his food, and sat for seven days with untrimmed
beard, clad in mourning, on a mat at the door of his antechamber,
extending his hands to his soldiers, and imploring them to slay him
rather than abandon him. His wives, seeing him in this state, and
concluding all was lost, filled the air with their lamentations. All
began to think that grief would bring Ali to the grave; but his
soldiers, to whose protestations he at first refused any credit,
represented to him that their fate was indissolubly linked with his.
Pacho Bey having proclaimed that all taken in arms for Ali would be
shot as sharers in rebellion, it was therefore their interest to
support his resistance with all their power. They also pointed out
that the campaign was already advanced, and that the Turkish army,
which had forgotten its siege artillery at Constantinople, could not
possibly procure any before the end of October, by which time the
rains would begin, and the enemy would probably be short of food.
Moreover, in any case, it being impossible to winter in a ruined
town, the foe would be driven to seek shelter at a distance.

These representations, made with warmth conviction, and supported by
evidence, began to soothe the restless fever which was wasting Ali,
and the gentle caresses and persuasions of Basillisa, the beautiful
Christian captive, who had now been his wife for some time, completed
the cure.

At the same time his sister Chainitza gave him an astonishing example
of courage. She had persisted, in spite of all that could be said,
in residing in her castle of Libokovo. The population, whom she had
cruelly oppressed, demanded her death, but no one dared attack her.
Superstition declared that the spirit of her mother, with whom she
kept up a mysterious communication even beyond the portals of the
grave, watched over her safety. The menacing form of Kamco had, it
was said, appeared to several inhabitants of Tepelen, brandishing
bones of the wretched Kardikiotes, and demanding fresh victims with
loud cries. The desire of vengeance had urged some to brave these
unknown dangers, and twice, a warrior, clothed in black, had warned
them back, forbidding them to lay hands on a sacrilegious woman;
whose punishment Heaven reserved to itself, and twice they had
returned upon their footsteps.

But soon, ashamed of their terror, they attempted another attack, and
came attired in the colour of the Prophet. This time no mysterious
stranger speared to forbid their passage and with a cry they climbed
the mountain, listening for any supernatural warning. Nothing
disturbed the silence and solitude save the bleating of flocks and
the cries of birds of prey. Arrived on the platform of Libokovo,
they prepared in silence to surprise the guards, believing the castle
full of them. They approached crawling, like hunters who stalk a
deer, already they had reached the gate of the enclosure, and
prepared to burst it open, when lo! it opened of itself, and they
beheld Chainitza standing before them, a carabine in her hand,
pistols in her belt, and, for all guard, two large dogs.

"Halt! ye daring ones," she cried; "neither my life nor my treasure
will ever be at your mercy. Let one of you move a step without my
permission, and this place and the ground beneath your feet' will
engulf you. Ten thousand pounds of powder are in these cellars. I
will, however, grant your pardon, unworthy though you are. I will
even allow you to take these sacks filled with gold; they may
recompense you for the losses which my brother's enemies have
recently inflicted on you. But depart this instant without a word,
and dare not to trouble me again; I have other means of destruction
at command besides gunpowder. Life is nothing to me, remember that;
but your mountains may yet at my command become the tomb of your
wives and children. Go!"

She ceased, and her would-be murderers fled terror.

Shortly after the plague broke out in these mountains, Chainitza had
distributed infected garments among gipsies, who scattered contagion
wherever they went.

"We are indeed of the same blood!" cried Ali with pride, when he
heard of his sister's conduct; and from that hour he appeared to
regain all the fire and audacity of his youth. When, a few days
later, he was informed that Mouktar and Veli, seduced by the
brilliant promises of Dacha Bey, had surrendered Prevesa and
Argyro-Castron, "It does not surprise me," he observed coldly. "I
have long known them to be unworthy of being my sons, and henceforth
my only children and heirs are those who defend my cause." And on
hearing a report that both had been beheaded by Dacha Bey's order, he
contented himself with saying, "They betrayed their father, and have
only received their deserts; speak no more of them." And to show how
little it discouraged him, he redoubled his fire upon the Turks.

But the latter, who had at length obtained some artillery, answered
his fire with vigour, and began to rally to discrown the old pacha's
fortress. Feeling that the danger was pressing, Ali redoubled both
his prudence and activity. His immense treasures were the real
reason of the war waged against him, and these might induce his own
soldiers to rebel, in order to become masters of them. He resolved
to protect them from either surprise or conquest. The sum necessary
for present use was deposited in the powder magazine, so that, if
driven to extremity, it might be destroyed in a moment; the remainder
was enclosed in strong-boxes, and sunk in different parts of the
lake. This labour lasted a fortnight, when, finally, Ali put to
death the gipsies who had been employed about it, in order that the
secret might remain with himself.

While he thus set his own affairs in order, he applied himself to the
troubling those of his adversary. A great number of Suliots had
joined the Ottoman army in order to assist in the destruction of him
who formerly had ruined their country. Their camp, which for a long
time had enjoyed immunity from the guns of Janina, was one day
overwhelmed with bombs. The Suliots were terrified, until they
remarked that the bombs did not burst. They then, much astonished,
proceeded to pick up and examine these projectiles. Instead of a
match, they found rolls of paper enclosed in a wooden cylinder, on
which was engraved these words, "Open carefully." The paper
contained a truly Macchiavellian letter from Ali, which began by
saying that they were quite justified in having taken up arms against
him, and added that he now sent them a part of the pay of which the
traitorous Ismail was defrauding them, and that the bombs thrown into
their cantonment contained six thousand sequins in gold. He begged
them to amuse Ismail by complaints and recriminations, while his
gondola should by night fetch one of them, to whom he would
communicate what more he had to say. If they accepted his
proposition, they were to light three fires as a signal.

The signal was not long in appearing. Ali despatched his barge, which
took on board a monk, the spiritual chief of the Suliots. He was
clothed in sackcloth, and repeated the prayers for the dying, as one
going to execution. Ali, however, received him with the utmost
cordiality: He assured the priest of his repentance, his good
intentions, his esteem for the Greek captains, and then gave him a
paper which startled him considerably. It was a despatch,
intercepted by Ali, from Khalid Effendi to the Seraskier Ismail,
ordering the latter to exterminate all Christians capable of bearing
arms. All male children were to be circumcised, and brought up to
form a legion drilled in European fashion; and the letter went on to
explain how the Suliots, the Armatolis, the Greek races of the
mainland and those of the Archipelago should be disposed of. Seeing
the effect produced on the monk by the perusal of this paper, Ali
hastened to make him the most advantageous offers, declaring that his
own wish was to give Greece a political existence, and only requiring
that the Suliot captains should send him a certain number of their
children as hostages. He then had cloaks and arms brought which he
presented to the monk, dismissing him in haste, in order that
darkness might favour his return.

The next day Ali was resting, with his head on Basilissa's lap, when
he was informed that the enemy was advancing upon the intrenchments
which had been raised in the midst of the ruins of Janina. Already
the outposts had been forced, and the fury of the assailants
threatened to triumph over all obstacles. Ali immediately ordered a
sortie of all his troops, announcing that he himself would conduct
it. His master of the horse brought him the famous Arab charger
called the Dervish, his chief huntsman presented him with his guns,
weapons still famous in Epirus, where they figure in the ballads of
the Skipetars. The first was an enormous gun, of Versailles
manufacture, formerly presented by the conqueror of the Pyramids to
Djezzar, the Pacha of St. Jean-d'Arc, who amused himself by enclosing
living victims in the walls of his palace, in order that he might
hear their groans in the midst of his festivities. Next came a
carabine given to the Pacha of Janina in the name of Napoleon in
1806; then the battle musket of Charles XII of Sweden, and finally--
the much revered sabre of Krim-Guerai. The signal was given; the
draw bridge crossed; the Guegues and other adventurers uttered a
terrific shout; to which the cries of the assailants replied. Ali
placed himself on a height, whence his eagle eye sought to discern
the hostile chiefs; but he called and defied Pacho Bey in vain.
Perceiving Hassan-Stamboul, colonel of the Imperial bombardiers
outside his battery, Ali demanded the gun of Djezzar, and laid him
dead on the spot. He then took the carabine of Napoleon, and shot
with it Kekriman, Bey of Sponga, whom he had formerly appointed Pacha
of Lepanto. The enemy now became aware of his presence, and sent a
lively fusillade in his direction; but the balls seemed to diverge
from his person. As soon as the smoke cleared, he perceived Capelan,
Pacha of Croie, who had been his guest, and wounded him mortally in
the chest. Capelan uttered a sharp cry, and his terrified horse
caused disorder in the ranks. Ali picked off a large number of
officers, one after another; every shot was mortal, and his enemies
began to regard him in, the light of a destroying angel. Disorder
spread through the forces of the Seraskier, who retreated hastily to
his intrenchments.

The Suliots meanwhile sent a deputation to Ismail offering their
submission, and seeking to regain their country in a peaceful manner;
but, being received by him with the most humiliating contempt, they
resolved to make common cause with Ali. They hesitated over the
demand for hostages, and at length required Ali's grandson, Hussien
Pacha, in exchange. After many difficulties, Ali at length
consented, and the agreement was concluded. The Suliots received
five hundred thousand piastres and a hundred and fifty charges of
ammunition, Hussien Pacha was given up to them, and they left the
Ottoman camp at dead of night. Morco Botzaris remained with three
hundred and twenty men, threw down the palisades, and then ascending
Mount Paktoras with his troops, waited for dawn in order to announce
his defection to the Turkish army. As soon as the sun appeared he
ordered a general salvo of artillery and shouted his war-cry. A few
Turks in charge of an outpost were slain, the rest fled. A cry of
"To arms" was raised, and the standard of the Cross floated before
the camp of the infidels.

Signs and omens of a coming general insurrection appeared on all
sides; there was no lack of prodigies, visions, or popular rumours,
and the Mohammedans became possessed with the idea that the last hour
of their rule in Greece had struck. Ali Pacha favoured the general
demoralisation; and his agents, scattered throughout the land, fanned
the flame of revolt. Ismail Pacha was deprived of his title of
Seraskier, and superseded by Kursheed Pacha. As soon as Ali heard
this, he sent a messenger to Kursheed, hoping to influence him in his
favour. Ismail, distrusting the Skipetars, who formed part of his
troops, demanded hostages from them. The Skipetars were indignant,
and Ali hearing of their discontent, wrote inviting them to return to
him, and endeavouring to dazzle them by the most brilliant promises.
These overtures were received by the offended troops with enthusiasm,
and Alexis Noutza, Ali's former general, who had forsaken him for
Ismail, but who had secretly returned to his allegiance and acted as
a spy on the Imperial army, was deputed to treat with him. As soon
as he arrived, Ali began to enact a comedy in the intention of
rebutting the accusation of incest with his daughter-in-law Zobeide;
for this charge, which, since Veli himself had revealed the secret of
their common shame, could only be met by vague denials, had never
ceased to produce a mast unfavourable impression on Noutza's mind.
Scarcely had he entered the castle by the lake, when Ali rushed to
meet him, and flung himself into his arms. In presence of his
officers and the garrison, he loaded him with the most tender names,
calling him his son, his beloved Alexis, his own legitimate child,
even as Salik Pacha. He burst into tears, and, with terrible oaths,
called Heaven to witness that Mouktar and Veli, whom he disavowed on
account of their cowardice, were the adulterous offspring of Emineh's
amours. Then, raising his hand against the tomb of her whom he had
loved so much, he drew the stupefied Noutza into the recess of a
casemate, and sending for Basilissa, presented him to her as a
beloved son, whom only political considerations had compelled him to
keep at a distance, because, being born of a Christian mother, he had
been brought up in the faith of Jesus.

Having thus softened the suspicions of his soldiers, Ali resumed his
underground intrigues. The Suliots had informed him that the sultan
had made them extremely advantageous offers if they would return to
his service, and they demanded pressingly that Ali should give up to
them the citadel of Kiapha, which was still in his possession, and
which commanded Suli. He replied with the information that he
intended, January 26, to attack the camp of Pacho Bey early in the
morning, and requested their assistance. In order to cause a
diversion, they were to descend into the valley of Janina at night,
and occupy a position which he pointed out to them, and he gave their
the word "flouri" as password for the night. If successful, he
undertook to grant their request.

Ali's letter was intercepted, and fell into Ismail's hands, who
immediately conceived a plan for snaring his enemy in his own toils.
When the night fixed by Ali arrived, the Seraskier marched out a
strong division under the command of Omar Brionis, who had been
recently appointed Pacha, and who was instructed to proceed along the
western slope of Mount Paktoras as far as the village of Besdoune,
where he was to place an outpost, and then to retire along the other
side of the mountain, so that, being visible in the starlight, the
sentinels placed to watch on the hostile towers might take his men
for the Suliots and report to Ali that the position of Saint-Nicolas,
assigned to them, had been occupied as arranged. All preparations
for battle were made, and the two mortal enemies, Ismail and Ali,
retired to rest, each cherishing the darling hope of shortly
annihilating his rival.

At break of day a lively cannonade, proceeding from the castle of the
lake and from Lithoritza, announced that the besieged intended a
sortie. Soon Ali's Skipetars, preceded by a detachment of French,
Italians, and Swiss, rushed through the Ottoman fire and carried the
first redoubt, held by Ibrahim-Aga-Stamboul. They found six pieces
of cannon, which the Turks, notwithstanding their terror, had had
time to spike. This misadventure, for they had hoped to turn the
artillery against the intrenched camp, decided Ali's men on attacking
the second redoubt, commanded by the chief bombardier. The Asiatic
troops of Baltadgi Pacha rushed to its defence. At their head
appeared the chief Imaun of the army, mounted on a richly caparisoned
mule and repeating the curse fulminated by the mufti against Ali, his
adherents, his castles, and even his cannons, which it was supposed
might be rendered harmless by these adjurations. Ali's Mohammedan
Skipetars averted their eyes, and spat into their bosoms, hoping thus
to escape the evil influence. A superstitious terror was beginning
to spread among them, when a French adventurer took aim at the Imaun
and brought him down, amid the acclamations of the soldiers;
whereupon the Asiatics, imagining that Eblis himself fought against
them, retired within the intrenchments, whither the Skipetars, no
longer fearing the curse, pursued them vigorously.

At the same time, however, a very different action was proceeding at
the northern end of the besiegers' intrenchments. Ali left his
castle of the lake, preceded by twelve torch-bearers carrying
braziers filled with lighted pitch-wood, and advanced towards the
shore of Saint-Nicolas, expecting to unite with the Suliots. He
stopped in the middle of the ruins to wait for sunrise, and while
there heard that his troops had carried the battery of
Ibrahim-Aga-Stamboul. Overjoyed, he ordered them to press on to the
second intrenchment, promising that in an hour, when he should have
been joined by the Suliots, he would support them, and he then pushed
forward, preceded by two field-pieces with their waggons, and
followed by fifteen hundred men, as far as a large plateau on which
he perceived at a little distance an encampment which he supposed to
be that of the Suliots. He then ordered the Mirdite prince, Kyr
Lekos, to advance with an escort of twenty-five men, and when within
hearing distance to wave a blue flag and call out the password. An
Imperial officer replied with the countersign "flouri," and Lekos
immediately sent back word to Ali to advance. His orderly hastened
back, and the prince entered the camp, where he and his escort were
immediately surrounded and slain.

On receiving the message, Ali began to advance, but cautiously, being
uneasy at seeing no signs of the Mirdite troop. Suddenly, furious
cries, and a lively fusillade, proceeding from the vineyards and
thickets, announced that he had fallen into a trap, and at the same
moment Omar Pacha fell upon his advance guard, which broke, crying
"Treason!".

Ali sabred the fugitives mercilessly, but fear carried them away,
and, forced to follow the crowd, he perceived the Kersales and
Baltadgi Pacha descending the side of Mount Paktoras, intending to
cut off his retreat. He attempted another route, hastening towards
the road to Dgeleva, but found it held by the Tapagetae under the
Bimbashi Aslon of Argyro-Castron. He was surrounded, all seemed
lost, and feeling that his last hour had come, he thought only of
selling his life as dearly as possible. Collecting his bravest
soldiers round him, he prepared for a last rush on Omar Pacha; when,
suddenly, with an inspiration born of despair, he ordered his
ammunition waggons to be blown up. The Kersales, who were about to
seize them, vanished in the explosion, which scattered a hail of
stones and debris far and wide. Under cover of the smoke and general
confusion, Ali succeeded in withdrawing his men to the shelter of the
guns of his castle of Litharitza, where he continued the fight in
order to give time to the fugitives to rally, and to give the support
he had promised to those fighting on the other slope; who, in the
meantime, had carried the second battery and were attacking the
fortified camp. Here the Seraskier Ismail met them with a resistance
so well managed, that he was able to conceal the attack he was
preparing to make on their rear. Ali, guessing that the object of
Ismail's manoeuvres was to crush those whom he had promised to help,
and unable, on account of the distance, either to support or to warn
them, endeavoured to impede Omar Pasha, hoping still that his
Skipetars might either see or hear him. He encouraged the fugitives,
who recognised him from afar by his scarlet dolman, by the dazzling
whiteness of his horse, and by the terrible cries which he uttered;
for, in the heat of battle, this extraordinary man appeared to have
regained the vigour and audacity, of his youth. Twenty times he led
his soldiers to the charge, and as often was forced to recoil towards
his castles. He brought up his reserves, but in vain. Fate had
declared against him. His troops which were attacking the intrenched
camp found themselves taken between two fires, and he could not help
them. Foaming with passion, he threatened to rush singly into the
midst of his enemies. His officers besought him to calm himself,
and, receiving only refusals, at last threatened to lay hands upon
him if he persisted in exposing himself like a private soldier.
Subdued by this unaccustomed opposition, Ali allowed himself to be
forced back into the castle by the lake, while his soldiers dispersed
in various directions.

But even this defeat did not discourage the fierce pasha. Reduced to
extremity, he yet entertained the hope of shaking the Ottoman Empire,
and from the recesses of his fortress he agitated the whole of
Greece. The insurrection which he had stirred up, without foreseeing
what the results might be, was spreading with the rapidity of a
lighted train of powder, and the Mohammedans were beginning to
tremble, when at length Kursheed Pasha, having crossed the Pindus at
the head of an army of eighty thousand men, arrived before Janina.

His tent had hardly been pitched, when Ali caused a salute of
twenty-one guns to be fired in his honour, and sent a messenger,
bearing a letter of congratulation on his safe arrival. This letter,
artful and insinuating, was calculated to make a deep impression on
Kursheed. Ali wrote that, being driven by the infamous lies of a
former servant, called Pacho Bey, into resisting, not indeed the
authority of the sultan, before whom he humbly bent his head weighed
down with years and grief, but the perfidious plots of His Highness's
advisers, he considered himself happy in his misfortunes to have
dealings with a vizier noted for his lofty qualities. He then added
that these rare merits had doubtless been very far from being
estimated at their proper value by a Divan in which men were only
classed in accordance with the sums they laid out in gratifying the
rapacity of the ministers. Otherwise, how came it about that
Kursheed Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt--after the departure of the French,
the conqueror of the Mamelukes, was only rewarded for these services
by being recalled without a reason? Having been twice Romili-Valicy,
why, when he should have enjoyed the reward of his labours, was he
relegated to the obscure post of Salonica? And, when appointed Grand
Vizier and sent to pacify Servia, instead of being entrusted with the
government of this kingdom which he had reconquered for the sultan,
why was he hastily despatched to Aleppo to repress a trifling
sedition of emirs and janissaries? Now, scarcely arrived in the
Morea, his powerful arm was to be employed against an aged man.

Ali then plunged into details, related the pillaging, avarice, and
imperious dealing of Pacho Bey, as well as of the pachas subordinate
to him; how they had alienated the public mind, how they had
succeeded in offending the Armatolis, and especially the Suliots, who
might be brought back to their duty with less trouble than these
imprudent chiefs had taken to estrange them. He gave a mass of
special information on this subject, and explained that in advising
the Suliots to retire to their mountains he had really only put them
in a false position as long as he retained possession of the fort of
Kiapha, which is the key of the Selleide.

The Seraskier replied in a friendly manner, ordered the military
salute to be returned in Ali's honour, shot for shot, and forbade
that henceforth a person of the valour and intrepidity of the Lion of
Tepelen should be described by the epithet of "excommunicated." He
also spoke of him by his title of "vizier," which he declared he had
never forfeited the right to use; and he also stated that he had only
entered Epirus as a peace-maker. Kursheed's emissaries had just
seized some letters sent by Prince Alexander Ypsilanti to the Greek
captains at Epirus. Without going into details of the events which
led to the Greek insurrection, the prince advised the Polemarchs,
chiefs of the Selleid, to aid Ali Pacha in his revolt against the
Porte, but to so arrange matters that they could easily detach
themselves again, their only aim being to seize his treasures, which
might be used to procure the freedom of Greece.

These letters a messenger from Kursheed delivered to Ali. They
produced such an impression upon his mind that he secretly resolved
only to make use of the Greeks, and to sacrifice them to his own
designs, if he could not inflict a terrible vengeance on their
perfidy. He heard from the messenger at the same time of the
agitation in European Turkey, the hopes of the Christians, and the
apprehension of a rupture between the Porte and Russia. It was
necessary to lay aside vain resentment and to unite against these
threatening dangers. Kursheed Pacha was, said his messenger, ready
to consider favourably any propositions likely to lead to a prompt
pacification, and would value such a result far more highly than the
glory of subduing by means of the imposing force at his command, a
valiant prince whom he had always regarded as one of the strongest
bulwarks of the Ottoman Empire. This information produced a
different effect upon Ali to that intended by the Seraskier. Passing
suddenly from the depth of despondency to the height of pride, he
imagined that these overtures of reconciliation were only a proof of
the inability of his foes to subdue him, and he sent the following
propositions to Kursheed Pacha:

"If the first duty of a prince is to do justice, that of his subjects
is to remain faithful, and obey him in all things. From this
principle we derive that of rewards and punishments, and although my
services might sufficiently justify my conduct to all time, I
nevertheless acknowledge that I have deserved the wrath of the
sultan, since he has raised the arm of his anger against the head of
his slave. Having humbly implored his pardon, I fear not to invoke
his severity towards those who have abused his confidence. With this
object I offer--First, to pay the expenses of the war and the tribute
in arrears due from my Government without delay. Secondly, as it is
important for the sake of example that the treason of an inferior
towards his superior should receive fitting chastisement, I demand
that Pacho Bey, formerly in my service, should be beheaded, he being
the real rebel, and the cause of the public calamities which are
afflicting the faithful of Islam. Thirdly, I require that for the
rest of my life I shall retain, without annual re-investiture, my
pachalik of Janina, the coast of Epirus, Acarnania and its
dependencies, subject to the rights, charges and tribute due now and
hereafter to the sultan. Fourthly, I demand amnesty and oblivion of
the past for all those who have served me until now. And if these
conditions are not accepted without modifications, I am prepared to
defend myself to the last.

"Given at the castle of Janina, March 7, 1821."

CHAPTER X

This mixture of arrogance and submission only merited indignation,
but it suited Kursheed to dissemble. He replied that, assenting to
such propositions being beyond his powers, he would transmit them to
Constantinople, and that hostilities might be suspended, if Ali
wished, until the courier, could return.

Being quite as cunning as Ali himself, Kursheed profited by the truce
to carry on intrigues against him. He corrupted one of the chiefs of
the garrison, Metzo-Abbas by name, who obtained pardon for himself
and fifty followers, with permission to return to their homes. But
this clemency appeared to have seduced also four hundred Skipetars
who made use of the amnesty and the money with which Ali provided
them, to raise Toxis and the Tapygetae in the latter's favour. Thus
the Seraskier's scheme turned against himself, and he perceived he
had been deceived by Ali's seeming apathy, which certainly did not
mean dread of defection. In fact, no man worth anything could have
abandoned him, supported as he seemed to be by almost supernatural
courage. Suffering from a violent attack of gout, a malady he had
never before experienced, the pacha, at the age of eighty-one, was
daily carried to the most exposed place on the ramparts of his
castle. There, facing the hostile batteries, he gave audience to
whoever wished to see him. On this exposed platform he held his
councils, despatched orders, and indicated to what points his guns
should be directed. Illumined by the flashes of fire, his figure
assumed fantastic and weird shapes. The balls sung in the air, the
bullets hailed around him, the noise drew blood from the ears of
those with him. Calm and immovable, he gave signals to the soldiers
who were still occupying part of the ruins of Janina, and encouraged
them by voice and gesture. Observing the enemy's movements by the
help of a telescope, he improvised means of counteracting them.
Sometimes he amused himself by, greeting curious persons and
new-comers after a fashion of his own. Thus the chancellor of the
French Consul at Prevesa, sent as an envoy to Kursheed Pacha, had
scarcely entered the lodging assigned to him, when he was visited by
a bomb which caused him to leave it again with all haste. This
greeting was due to Ali's chief engineer, Caretto, who next day sent
a whole shower of balls and shells into the midst of a group of
Frenchmen, whose curiosity had brought them to Tika, where Kursheed
was forming a battery. "It is time," said Ali, "that these
contemptible gossip-mongers should find listening at doors may become
uncomfortable. I have furnished matter enough for them to talk
about. Frangistan (Christendom) shall henceforth hear only of my
triumph or my fall, which will leave it considerable trouble to
pacify." Then, after a moment's silence, he ordered the public
criers to inform his soldiers of the insurrections in Wallachia and
the Morea, which news, proclaimed from the ramparts, and spreading
immediately in the Imperial camp, caused there much dejection.

The Greeks were now everywhere proclaiming their independence, and
Kursheed found himself unexpectedly surrounded by enemies. His
position threatened to become worse if the siege of Janina dragged on
much longer. He seized the island in the middle of the lake, and
threw up redoubts upon it, whence he kept up an incessant fire on the
southern front of the castle of Litharitza, and a practicable trench
of nearly forty feet having been made, an assault was decided on.
The troops marched out boldly, and performed prodigies of valour; but
at the end of an hour, Ali, carried on a litter because of his gout,
having led a sortie, the besiegers were compelled to give way and
retire to their intrenchments, leaving three hundred dead at the foot
of the rampart. "The Pindian bear is yet alive," said Ali in a
message to Kursheed; "thou mayest take thy dead and bury them; I give
them up without ransom, and as I shall always do when thou attackest
me as a brave man ought." Then, having entered his fortress amid the
acclamations of his soldiers, he remarked on hearing of the general
rising of Greece and the Archipelago, "It is enough! two men have
ruined Turkey! "He then remained silent, and vouchsafed no
explanation of this prophetic sentence.

Ali did not on this occasion manifest his usual delight on having
gained a success. As soon as he was alone with Basilissa, he
informed her with tears of the death of Chainitza. A sudden apoplexy
had stricken this beloved sister, the life of his councils, in her
palace of Libokovo, where she remained undisturbed until her death.
She owed this special favour to her riches and to the intercession of
her nephew, Djiladin Pacha of Ochcrida, who was reserved by fate to
perform the funeral obsequies of the guilty race of Tepelen.

A few months afterwards, Ibrahim Pacha of Berat died of poison, being
the last victim whom Chainitza had demanded from her brother.

Ali's position was becoming daily more difficult, when the time of
Ramadan arrived, during which the Turks relax hostilities, and a
species of truce ensued. Ali himself appeared to respect the old
popular customs, and allowed his Mohammedan soldiers to visit the
enemy's outposts and confer on the subject of various religious
ceremonies. Discipline was relaxed in Kursheed's camp, and Ali
profited thereby to ascertain the smallest details of all that
passed.

He learned from his spies that the general's staff, counting on the
"Truce of God," a tacit suspension of all hostilities during the
feast of Bairam, the Mohammedan Easter, intended to repair to the
chief mosque, in the quarter of Loutcha. This building, spared by
the bombs, had until now been respected by both sides. Ali,
according to reports spread by himself, was supposed to be ill,
weakened by fasting, and terrified into a renewal of devotion, and
not likely to give trouble on so sacred a day. Nevertheless he
ordered Caretto to turn thirty guns against the mosque, cannon,
mortars and howitzers, intending, he said, to solemnise Bairam by
discharges of artillery. As soon as he was sure that the whole of
the staff had entered the mosque, he gave the signal.

Instantly, from the assembled thirty pieces, there issued a storm of
shells, grenades and cannon-balls. With a terrific noise, the mosque
crumbled together, amid the cries of pain and rage of the crowd
inside crushed in the ruins. At the end of a quarter of an hour the
wind dispersed the smoke, and disclosed a burning crater, with the
large cypresses which surrounded the building blazing as if they had
been torches lighted for the funeral ceremonies of sixty captains and
two hundred soldiers.

"Ali Pacha is yet alive! "cried the old Homeric hero of Janina,
leaping with joy; and his words, passing from mouth to mouth, spread
yet more terror amid Kursheed's soldiers, already overwhelmed by the
horrible spectacle passing before their eyes.

Almost on the same day, Ali from the height of his keep beheld the
standard of the Cross waving in the distance. The rebellious Greeks
were bent on attacking Kursheed. The insurrection promoted by the
Vizier of Janina had passed far beyond the point he intended, and the
rising had become a revolution. The delight which Ali first evinced
cooled rapidly before this consideration, and was extinguished in
grief when he found that a conflagration, caused by the besiegers'
fire, had consumed part of his store in the castle by the lake.
Kursheed, thinking that this event must have shaken the old lion's
resolution, recommenced negotiations, choosing the Kiaia of Moustai
Pacha: as an envoy, who gave Ali a remarkable warning. "Reflect,"
said he, "that these rebels bear the sign of the Cross on their
standards. You are now only an instrument in their hands. Beware
lest you become the victim of their policy." Ali understood the
danger, and had the sultan been better advised, he would have
pardoned Ali on condition of again bringing Hellos under his iron
yoke. It is possible that the Greeks might not have prevailed
against an enemy so formidable and a brain so fertile in intrigue.
But so simple an idea was far beyond the united intellect of the
Divan, which never rose above idle display. As soon as these
negotiations, had commenced, Kursheed filled the roads with his
couriers, sending often two in a day to Constantinople, from whence
as many were sent to him. This state of things lasted mare than
three weeks, when it became known that Ali, who had made good use of
his time in replacing the stores lost in the conflagration, buying
actually from the Kiaia himself a part of the provisions brought by
him for the Imperial camp, refused to accept the Ottoman ultimatum.
Troubles which broke, out at the moment of the rupture of the
negotiations proved that he foresaw the probable result.

Kursheed was recompensed for the deception by which he had been duped
by the reduction of the fortress of Litharitza. The Guegue
Skipetars, who composed the garrison, badly paid, wearied out by the
long siege, and won by the Seraskier's bribes, took advantage of the
fact that the time of their engagement with Ali had elapsed same
months previously, and delivering up the fortress they defended,
passed over to the enemy. Henceforth Ali's force consisted of only
six hundred men.

It was to be feared that this handful of men might also become a prey
to discouragement, and might surrender their chief to an enemy who
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
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

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