Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 10
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.