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   Chapter 6 MONEY! PAY!

Mohammed Ali and His House By L. Muhlbach Characters: 17319

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


Without in the vestibule they met Mustapha, the guardian of the revenues of the holy temple of Mecca. Beside him stood several of the leading citizens of Cairo. They had come to settle amicably, if possible, the grave difficulty between the viceroy and the sheiks.

"Do not let it come to extremes, cadi," said the oualy, in warning tones. "You know the viceroy is very powerful, and his fierce soldiers take delight in slaughter."

"No, do not let it come to extremes," said the others, joining in his entreaty. "Consider that they are strong, and we are weak."

"No we are strong, for we are in the right," said the cadi. "We cannot allow justice to be set at defiance, and the noblest of the women of Cairo to be shamefully insulted. The people look to us, their representatives, to protect them, and woe to us if we fail to discharge our duty! Come, let us to the mosque, and there render to the people an account of what we have done."

"Do this at your peril!" cried Mustapha. "O cadi, the viceroy is resolute and defies us with his troops. Let me at least make an attempt to settle the matter peaceably."

"Let him do so," cried the others. At last, the cadi consented to wait until the oualy should have seen the viceroy.

"If he liberates Sitta Nefysseh, and allows you to conduct her through the streets, will you be satisfied?"

"Not satisfied, but we will demand nothing more," said the cadi, "although the viceroy should be required to confess, publicly, that the accusation is unjust."

"That is too much. This the viceroy cannot and will not do," cried the oualy. "Be contented if he sets the Sitta at liberty, and allows you to show her to the people."

"But we demand, in addition," said the cadi, "that he with draw his police from her house."

"That he has already done," said the oualy, smiling. "Not finding what they sought, the soldiers have quietly with drawn."

"Then I shall go at once to the viceroy, and endeavor to soften his severity," cried Mustapha Aga. "Await my return here."

Mustapha hastened to the viceroy's apartment. In a few minutes he returned, his countenance radiant with delight.

"Ye men, the viceroy has graciously accorded what we demand, and you are to conduct the Sitta in triumph through the city. What, cadi! you receive this intelligence calmly and gloomily?"

"The times are gloomy and lowering," said the cadi. "That the viceroy sets the Sitta at liberty proves only that he had no right to arrest her, and that the viceroy does right or wrong at his own pleasure. That saddens me. Come, let us go after Sitta Nefysseh."

"Wait a moment," said Mustapha. "The viceroy annexes a little condition to his consent."

"I thought so," said the cadi, quietly.

"The viceroy requires that the Sitta shall not return to her house, as he has been informed that she often receives the visits of the Mameluke chieftains there. Her house is in the outskirts of the city, and it is difficult to observe those who enter and leave it. It is peculiarly accessible to the enemy, and the viceroy therefore requires that Sitta Nefysseh shall no longer reside there, but in the house of Sheik Sadat. She cannot refuse to do this."

"And she will not," said Sheik Sadat. "No, she will not refuse to honor the abode of her old friend with her presence. Come, let us go."

They then repaired at once to the house of Sheik Hesseyni, who, already informed of what had taken place, came forward to meet them, leading Sitta Nefysseh. She extended her hand to the cadi, and then turned to Sadat:

"Will you receive me into your dwelling? Will you extend your hospitality to the poor woman who has been driven from her own home?"

"Welcome to my house, Sitta!" cried Sadat. "It seems to me that with you my noble friend Mourad Bey will also cross my threshold once more. Your presence in my humble house will do me great honor. How delighted my wives will be to receive you!"

The people had again assembled in front of the gates of the citadel. As these were now opened, and Sitta Nefysseh appeared coming toward them in the midst of her escort, the people recognized her queenly figure and bearing, although her face was veiled. Shouts of delight rent the air. "Long live Sitta Nefysseh, and the cadi! Praised be Allah that we have a cadi who enforces our rights!" ` Cousrouf sat on his divan in his apartment. He heard this cry, and muttered between his teeth, "These rebels shall pay for this!"

The shouting populace conducted Sitta Nefysseh in triumph through the streets. The cadi was loudly applauded, and the viceroy derided.

These shouts were not only heard by the viceroy, but also by Mohammed Ali in his silent chamber, and they brought a smile to his lips. He had stayed in his apartments all day, and had also commanded his soldiers to remain in their quarters.

"It works well," said he to himself. "These shouts show how good was the advice I gave him. Shrewd as you are, Cousrouf, you are beaten at your own game. The people are contented to know you, enthroned in the citadel. They dreamed of happiness and peace, and called you a just ruler. I have opened their eyes. Today, they know Cousrouf to be an unjust ruler, and love him no longer. You enraged them most when you dared to insult the woman who is most honored in Cairo. From this moment, not only the men, but, what is far worse, the women, are arrayed against you."

He had risen and was walking to and fro in his apartment.

From time to time he stopped at the window to listen to the cries that resounded from the streets, and then resumed his walking.

"What curses good Cousrouf must be invoking upon my head at this moment! He will have discovered by this time that his good friend Mohammed still somewhat resembles the 'insolent lad,' as he always called him, of Cavalla. You have schooled me well, Cousrouf; you have converted the insolent lad into a lion who wears the skin of a fox. You were pleased with the fox, stroked his fur, and called him your devoted servant. But, only wait, the fox-skin will soon fall to the ground and disclose the lion ready to destroy you. Yes," continued he, "wait but a few days longer, and this transformation shall take place. It must take place. The week will soon have elapsed, and then Bardissi must have my answer. Cousrouf shall hear it and quake in his citadel. Everything is ready, and my new friends shall soon hear from me."

Suddenly he stopped before the window and listened attentively. Fierce and savage cries had succeeded the shouts of joy. The voices of women and children were now hushed, and the hoarse tones of men only could be heard. He hastily stepped back from the window. No, he must not be seen. If seen, he might be called and compelled to join in the movement against his will, and the time has not yet come. He must still wait.

He stood still in the middle of the room, and listened to the uproar that came.

"This is revolt! These are soldiers!" said he to himself, stepping to the door of the antechamber, and beckoning to a slave. "What is the meaning of this uproar?"

"I know not, sarechsme. Shall I go down to inquire?"

"Go down, mingle with the crowd, and find out what it means, and then return to me as quickly as possible."

The Nubian hastened to do his master's bidding. Mohammed continued to walk to and fro. The uproar, as it came nearer, had become intelligible.

"We want money! Give us bread! We are hungry. and must have our pay!"

Such were the savage cries that resounded from the street below.

"Ah, I understand," said Mohammed to himself ; "these are Taher Pacha's soldiers! He has marched with them into the city, to begin the work on his own account; Taher is ambitious, and wants the viceroy's throne. He begins the work of rebellion for himself, he will end it for me; though I can as yet take no active part in it! O Sitta Nefysseh, you have brought me a step nearer to the throne, and Taber is advancing me another. Wait, Mohammed, only wait."

The Nubian returned and announced that a revolt had broken oat among Taber Pacha's soldiers. They had gone to the citadel, and savagely demanded their pay. The viceroy had received a deputation sent by them, and told them to go to the defterdar, and demand payment of him in the viceroy's name. In accordance with this demand, the soldiers had then repaired to the house of the defterdar, and had, upon admission being denied them, broken down the doors. The minister of finance, however, rid himself of them by telling them to demand their pay of Mohammed Ali, who had a few days before received ten purses of gold from the viceroy f

or the payment of the troops.

"And now the soldiers have come here," said the Nubian, in deferential, anxious tones. "They have surrounded the house, and demand their pay. They are furious, and swear by Allah and the prophet that they will not rest until they have received the money due them. They complain, too, of being sent from house to house like beggars."

"The poor fellows are right," said Mohammed.

Fierce cries now resounded from below:

"We will not be trodden under foot like dogs! We are no beggars! Give us our pay, Mohammed Ali! The defterdar sends us to you! You have our money, and we want it!"

He sprang to the window, tore it open, and, in tones that were heard above the uproar, commanded silence.

"The defterdar has deceived you. I have no money! I will come down to you."

He quickly stepped back from the window, and laid the sword, dagger, and pistols, that hung in his belt, on the table.

"They shall see that I am not alarmed. I will go down to them unarmed."

No, Mohammed Ali is not alarmed, they all perceive as he appears among them unarmed, and motions the soldiers, that are rushing upon him, back, with a wave of the hand.

"Stand back, soldiers, and do not forget that I am the sarechsme.

Not your general, but yet, like you, in the viceroy's service."

"Does he also pay you as he does us? " asked a soldier, in mocking tones. "Do they also give you empty promises instead of money?"

"That is an insolent question," said he. "I will, however, answer it, because I choose to do so. They do not pay me. They gave the sarechsme, after he had waited in vain for many months, ten purses of gold; they owe him more. Ask my soldiers what I did with this money. I shared it with my soldiers as a general should. I retained five purses, for this amount was due my creditors. The other five purses I gave to my soldiers-not as their pay, the viceroy owes them that, but as a present from me. I have received no other money- -I swear to this by Allah and the prophet. Go to my soldiers and ask them if this is not true, and then do as you think proper."

"Long live Mohammed Ali! Long live the generous sarechsme!" cried one of the soldiers, and the cry was taken up and repeated by all the rest.

"It is needless to go to the soldiers, for the sarechsme tells the truth. Let us return to the defterdar; he must and shall pay us!"

The revolting soldiers surged on up the street. Mohammed, however, returned to his solitary apartments with a clearer brow and a more derisive smile on his lips:

"This was well done, and can tend only to my advantage. Taher Pacha will not be much pleased, either, when his soldiers tell him of the presents made by me to mine. The waves are surging higher and higher, but I see the boat in which I am to ride over them safely. The golden oars only are wanting, but I shall find them, too!"

He called the Nubian, and commanded him to tell his bim bashis he desired to see them. And when they came he conversed with them for a long time, and gave them his orders. The soldiers were to remain quietly in their quarters, and not to mingle with the revolters.

"Wait quietly for three hours, and, if you receive no message from me by that time, him bashis, you may allow the soldiers to go out and satisfy their curiosity. Now go and wait until then."

The insurgents had again repaired to the house of the defterdar, situated on the square of the Esbekieh.

For the second time they fiercely demanded money, and called for the defterdar with such savage cries that he was compelled to show himself.

Deathly pale, and trembling in every limb, he came out upon the balcony of the second story, bowed in every direction, and begged the soldiers to listen to him. The uproar subsided for a moment. He entreated them to be patient for a few days, promising to procure money for them, to have it brought from Alexandria to meet their just demands.

"No!" cried one of the soldiers, raising his fist threateningly, "we have waited long enough, and will wait no longer! We are hungry. Pay us!"

"No!" cried another, "we will wait no longer! If the defterdar does not pay up we will tear him to pieces, and pay ourselves with his flesh!"

"Let us surround his house, and keep him prisoner until he gives us our pay!" yelled the soldiers, as they scaled the garden-wall and surrounded the house.

The terrified defterdar sent a messenger through a secret passage into the street, to convey intelligence of what had happened to the viceroy.

"Have pity on your defterdar, highness. The soldiers have broken into his house, and he is in their power. Help me! Subdue the revolt by paying the soldiers!"

Cousrouf received this intelligence with wrath.

"Are all the devils let loose? Hardly have I been compelled to liberate this insolent woman, when I am defied by rebellious soldiers. They shall be taught that I am master, and that to threaten me is to destroy themselves. Let the artillerists stand by their guns, with burning fuses, and await my orders! Let the soldiers be drawn up around the fortress with loaded muskets! And you, messenger, go back to your master, and tell him to send the rebels to me. I will give them the reception they deserve."

The messenger returned by the same secret passage to his master, and delivered the viceroy's message, and the delighted defterdar presented himself on the balcony once more.

"Go to the citadel, to the viceroy, he will receive you, and give you your money; I have none!"

"Allah il Allah !" cried the soldiers. "The viceroy is a great man!

He will deal justly with us!"

The dense masses of rebels surged up the Muskj Street toward the citadel. They have reached their destination. There stands the citadel. But what does this mean? The gates are closed. "The viceroy has sent for us; we wish to see him to demand our pay!" Suddenly the guns of the fortress hurl their deadly contents among them. "We are betrayed! They are murdering us!" yell the infuriated rebels, drawing their ataghans, and rushing upon the Turkish soldiers who are endeavoring to drive them from the citadel, fighting them man to man. And now the three hours have elapsed, and new masses of soldiers are storming up the height! These are Mohammed Ali's troops, now let loose! Like the others, they clamor for pay, and, like the others, they rush upon the Turkish soldiers. The revolt is now general.

Taker Pacha, as well as Mohammed Ali, hears it; but the latter remains quietly in his room. Taker Pacha, less discreet, hastens forth to suppress, or, if the prospect seems favorable, to encourage the revolt. He repairs to the citadel and sends the viceroy word that he desires an audience.

"Tell his highness I wish to restore the city to tranquillity; and, if possible, appease the soldiers."

The messenger soon returns with a dejected look. "It is in vain, general, in vain! His highness desires no peaceful settlement. He says he will make no compromise with rebels! You are to return to your house; he says he can dispose of these rebels without any assistance!"

"Is that his opinion?" asked Taher, bowing profoundly. "The wisdom of the viceroy is inscrutable. I retire, as he commands."

He hastily quitted the apartment, went down to his soldiers and called his bim bashis to his side.

"I was with his highness, and endeavored to settle this difficulty without further bloodshed. But he declined, and said there could be no settlement between you and him except at the cannon's mouth, and that be would pay you with your own blood!"

The soldiers answered their general's words with a fierce roar; when this at last subsided, he continued: "The viceroy says the defterdar is to pay you-that you must look to him. Let us do so, soldiers! Let us compel him to pay!"

"Yes, be shall pay us!" cried they; and the wild masses again rushed to the house of the defterdar.

The closed gates are torn asunder; and Taher Pacha's Armenians and

Mohammed Ali's Albanians run with savage cries into the house.

"I have no money!" cries the defterdar, with pale, trembling lips.

"Where are your books, your accounts? We will take you, together with your books, to our general."

"Do so, do so!" groaned the defterdar, pointing to his books. "Take me, with my books, to Taher Pacha."

Onward the wild mass surged with their prisoner and his accounts.

They passed the house of Mohammed Ali, who stood at the window, and looked down at them with a smile of satisfaction.

"The revolt is firmly established; Taher Pacha is at its head, and we shall see how he conducts the matter."

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