Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 11
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
Ali was alarmed, and his eyes were at length opened. He replied hesitatingly,
that on leaving the citadel he had charged Selim to obey only his own verbal
order, that no written command, even though signed and sealed by himself,
would produce any effect, and therefore he desired to repair himself to the castle,
in order to fulfil what was required.
Thereupon a long argument ensued, in which Ali's sagacity, skill, and artifice
struggled vainly against a decided line of action. New protestations were made to
deceive him, oaths were even taken on the Koran that no evil designs, no mental
reservations, were entertained. At length, yielding to the prayers of those who
surrounded him, perhaps concluding that all his skill could no longer fight against
Destiny, he finally gave way.
Drawing a secret token from his bozom, he handed it to Kursheed's envoy,
saying, "Go, show this to Selim, and you will convert a dragon into a lamb." And
in fact, at sight of the talisman, Selim prostrated himself, extinguished the match,
and fell, stabbed to the heart. At the same time the garrison withdrew, the
Imperial standard displayed its blazonry, and the lake castle was occupied by the
troops of the Seraskier, who rent the air with their acclamations.
It was then noon. Ali, in the island, had lost all illusions. His pulse beat violently,
but his countenance did not betray his mental trouble. It was noticed that he
appeared at intervals to be lost in profound thought, that he yawned frequently,
and continually drew his fingers through his beard. He drank coffee and iced
water several times, incessantly looked at his watch, and taking his field-glass,
surveyed by turns the camp, the castles of Janina, the Pindus range, and the
peaceful waters of the lake. Occasionally he glanced at his weapons, and then
his eyes sparkled with the fire of youth and of courage. Stationed beside him, his
guards prepared their cartridges, their eyes fixed on the landing-place.
The kiosk which he occupied was connected with a wooden structure raised
upon pillars, like the open-air theatres constructed for a public festival, and the
women occupied the most remote apartments. Everything seemed sad and