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Mohammed Ali and His House By L. Muhlbach Characters: 17027

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02

From the citadel the thunder of the artillery and the fierce shouts of the people still resounded. Mohammed heard the uproar throughout the entire night. The soldiers continually pressed forward to replace their comrades shot down by the murderous volleys from the fortress.

Mohammed remained quietly in his house. True, his soldiers have joined the rebels, but who can hold him responsible, and why should he expose himself to the danger of being refused obedience should he demand it of them?

Taher Pacha thinks differently. During the night he had examined the books of the defterdar, held a prisoner in his house, and had been compelled to admit that he was innocent, and had no money with which to pay off the soldiers.

On the following morning he announced to his soldiers that the defterdar was innocent, and the viceroy alone guilty. He had accumulated and possessed money and treasure, and could pay the soldiers if he would. He had, however, determined to keep for himself all the money sent from Stamboul for the troops.

The intelligence rapidly spreads among the soldiers that Cousrouf has money, and can pay if he will.

"And pay he shall!" cries Taher Pacha. "I will march with you into his stronghold. Woe to him; he has begun this work of slaughter, and must take the consequences!"

The gates are closed and barred. What care the soldiers, encouraged by their general's approach, for that?" The walls can be scaled!" No sooner said than done. Like cats, the first climb over the high wall, and the rest follow. The guards within are overpowered, and the gates are thrown open. And now all rush in intent on victory, and, above all, on obtaining money.

The viceroy's khaznadar advances to meet them with a body of soldiers. Taher Pacha calls on him to surrender. The coward obeys, and lays down his arms. Cousrouf sits quietly in his apartment, little dreaming of what has taken place.

"Let them fight on; in a short time these rebels and traitors will yield, and sue for mercy. I will have their heads severed from their bodies, and sent to Stamboul as trophies of victory!"

But what does this strange noise mean?

A volley resounds from beneath Cousrouf's windows.

A Nubian rushes into his apartment, and announces, in tones of dismay: "You are betrayed, the khaznadar has surrendered, and the rebels are storming the palace."

Cousrouf bounds from his seat, hurls from him his chibouque, and quickly girds on his sword.

"We will hurl them back. Let Mohammed Ali come with his troops. He will vanquish them and overthrow the traitor, Taher Pacha. Right royally shall Mohammed Ali be rewarded if he comes to my assistance; and come he will. He is at least no traitor, and will never make common cause with rebels. You, my Nubians, my body-guard, my brave followers, ascend to the battlement and turn the guns upon the rebels who surround us."

They obey his command, and their guns are soon thundering down into the ranks of the rebels.

Mohammed does not come to the viceroy's assistance; he is ill, and has been confined to his room ever since Taher Pacha has been besieging the citadel with his soldiers. Nor will his illness permit him to leave the house now, and his servant announces to all comers and to the soldiers that the sarechsme is very, very ill.

After two days have elapsed, he asks the physician, who is feeling his pulse, in a weak voice and with an air of indifference, how matters are progressing at the citadel; whether the traitor, Taher Pacha, still presumes to besiege the viceroy in his palace, and laments his inability to fly to his master's, assistance with his troops. When the physician tells him that the rebels had stormed the citadel, and that Cousrouf had fled, Mohammed shudders and sinks back upon his couch. Truly, he is very ill! How could this intelligence otherwise have so fearful an effect?

"Yes, Cousrouf has fled; he hoped for your assistance in vain, and was compelled to yield when it did not come. Yes, sarechsme, he fled secretly through the back gate of the citadel into the desert with his faithful body-guard and his women."

"And Taber Pacha?" asks Mohammed, eagerly.

"Taber Pacha has proclaimed himself caimacan. On my way here I met the cadi of the sheiks going to the citadel to present the robe of fur to the caimacan, in token of their recognition."

Loud and derisive laughter resounds from Mohammed Ali's lips.

"Really the sarechsme is very ill, and in a fearful state of excitement! His head may be affected by it. It may become dangerous."

The physician prescribes cooling applications for his head, and goes in person to superintend their preparation.

The door has hardly closed behind the physician, when Mohammed bounds from his bed.

"Now I am no longer il! The time for action has come!"

He calls one of his Nubian slaves.

"Hasten, my Saneb-hasten to the camp of the Mameluke beys. You will find them near Petresin, on the banks of the Nile. Seek Osman Bey Bardissi, and say to him: 'The time has come; await, beside the great Pyramid at Gheezeh, him with whom you conversed there two weeks since; await him there with all his forces.' Have you understood me? Repeat my words."

The Nubian repeated what he had said, word for word.

"And now hasten away, time is precious, and my message is important."

Hardly had the Nubian departed, when messengers came to summon Mohammed to the citadel, to Taher Pacha, the new caimacan. With a profound bow, Mohammed replies that he will immediately do himself the honor of waiting on the caimacan.

He calls his servants to his assistance, and puts on his gala uniform, mounts his splendidly-caparisoned steed, and, followed by a small body-guard of eight men, gallops through the streets to the citadel.

Taher Pacha, reclining on Cousrouf s cushions and smoking his chibouque, receives Mohammed with lively manifestations of delight.

"See what a man can make of himself, Mohammed? Here I lie, smoking

Cousrouf's chibouque on Cousrouf's cushions!"

"I congratulate you on your magnificence, and hope you may long repose there."

"It is to be hoped that I shall," replied Taher Pacha. "Fortune smiles on the daring. Had you been bold enough, you might now be in my place, Mohammed Ali; but you probably shrank from incurring the risk. I acted boldly, you perceive, and mine is now the viceroy's crown. Why did you not grasp it? you needed but to stretch forth your hand."

"And you did grasp it. Allah was gracious to you. I dared not; it seemed too far from me. And then, I admit, my head is too small for so heavy an ornament!"

"I feel strong enough to bear this burden," said Taher, laughing, "and now that I have it, I shall also know how to secure myself in its possession. All Cairo already recognizes me in my new dignity, and your recognition is now alone wanting, Mohammed Ali."

"I bow in all humility before the caimacan, and shall also recognize him as viceroy as soon as an answer is received from Stamboul."

Taher smiled graciously. "And now receive my first instructions, sarechsme. Send messengers to the Mameluke beys, I desire to make peace with them; I wish them to be my friends. We have had bloodshed enough. United with the Mamelukes, we shall be able to defy our Turkish enemies."

"I am of the same opinion," replied Mohammed, bowing profoundly.

"Then carry out my instructions at once."

"Your command shall be obeyed without delay," replied Mohammed, as he turned and left the apartment.

"He does not know what he is doing. It would have been dangerous for me to send a messenger to the Mamelukes. Now, in his assumed authority, he empowers me to do what I have long since done in my own interests. O Taher Pacha, you think yourself entitled to the throne because you have scaled the walls of the citadel; you are, however, grievously mistaken."

After three days the messenger reached the bardissi's camp, and delivered Mohammed's message.

Osman Bardissi shouted with delight. "The sarechsme keeps his word, and is about to unite with us. Come, ye Mamelukes, let us march to Gheezeh to meet our ally."

On the third day of their march the Mamelukes reach their destination, and encamp on the banks of the Nile, near Gheezeh.

Early on the following morning an officer in a glittering uniform

rides into the Mameluke camp, accompanied by a small body-guard.

Bardissi recognizes the officer and joyously greets him, and Sheik

Arnhyn, who r

ides at his side.

"There comes the brave sarechsme, Mohammed Ali; he keeps his word, and comes to unite his forces with ours."

"A hearty welcome, Mohammed Ali; a hearty welcome from me, and from all of us!"

"A warm greeting to you, Bardissi!" cried Mohammed, extending his hand.

There they stood, hand-in-hand, gazing at each other thoughtfully and earnestly. The others had respectfully withdrawn.

"We are both thinking of the past, Osman Bey," said Mohammed, with a soft smile. "You see I have not forgotten the name you impressed on my memory at Cavalla."

"Nor have I forgotten your name, Mohammed Ali," replied Bardissi. "The boys who defied each other at Cavalla have become men, and friends, too, have they not, Mohammed?"

"Yes, friends, too, I hope, Bardissi; and I press your hand in token of my friendship."

"And I yours. I am your friend, and welcome you heartily to our camp. But where are your forces? We have assembled here to meet them; are they not coming?"

"They will soon come," replied Mohammed; "my army awaits my orders. I have hastened here in the mean while to tell you that I am your faithful friend and ally. Great events have taken place in Cairo, and others are now impending. Wait a short time, and I shall probably be able to bring you the troops of the new caimacan, Taher Pacha, as well as my own. The caimacan wishes your friendship and alliance, and sends me as his messenger. But, as I have already said, I advise you to wait. The caimacan's rule is an overbearing one, and strange events are about to take place in Cairo. I do not wish to take part in them, and have therefore come here with a small escort. My soldiers are encamped near Cairo, and await my orders to march here. I came alone to prove that I trust you, and, with your permission, will remain here with you a few days."

"That was nobly thought and nobly done, Mohammed; you honor us more by coming alone than if you had come with all your forces," cried Bardissi, as he embraced Mohammed.

"Now you are mine, Mohammed, and I love you with all my heart. United with you, my hero, we can defy all the Turks that may be sent over from Stamboul."

Mohammed was right; strange events soon occurred in the palace of the caimacan at Cairo. The revolt which he had helped to excite had not yet subsided. He had turned the wild herd loose, but was now unable to manage it. The soldiers demanded their pay of the caimacan as savagely as they had demanded it of Cousrouf.

But where was the necessary money to be obtained? Money was the pretext on which he began the revolt, and now he finds himself enthroned in the palace as caimacan with empty coffers, Cousrouf having taken with him whatever treasure he possessed. He had invoked curses upon himself by endeavoring to procure money by force and extortion. What had become of the promises solemnly made to the people by the caimacan on the first day of his rule?-

"Peace and quiet shall prevail in the land, and happiness be the portion of the much-tormented inhabitants of Cairo."

Instead of peace, he has brought upon them new discord and revolt; instead of happiness, new misery.

In order to appease the wrath of his soldiers, he caused a number of the leading citizens to be arrested, and, upon their refusal to pay the money demanded of them, several of them were stretched on the rack, and others beheaded.

Finally, nothing remained to the new caimacan but to do as Cousrouf had done, and meet the demands of his soldiers with the statement that he had no money, and could not pay them.

The savage cry of the soldiery for pay was renewed in front of the citadel day after day with increased fierceness, and at last the two bim bashis, Moussa and Ismail Aga, were sent up to the citadel to the caimacan to make a final appeal for pay on the part of the soldiers.

He received them with a proud, gloomy look, asked why they came, and how these rebellious soldiers dare approach him in such a manner. They bowed their heads, and, as they approached the caimacan, entreated him in humble tones to satisfy the just demands of the soldiers. They conjured him to do so for the sake of peace, and for his own sake. The soldiers were in a highly excited state, and disposed to adopt extreme measures.

"To adopt extreme measures!" cried Taher "How dare you address such words to me?"

"We have been sent to you by the troops, highness, and must act according to our instructions. Once more, we implore you to pay the soldiers!"

"And once more I repeat to you that I neither can nor will pay them!" cried Taker, furiously. "If the traitors dare to threaten me, I will lay their heads at their feet!"

"Then we had best begin with you!" cried the bim bashis, rushing upon him, and running him through with their ataghans. They then severed the head from the body, opened a window, and hurled it down to the soldiers, who received it with shouts of delight, and then rushed into the palace.

The caimacan's faithful Armenians threw themselves in their way, and a murderous conflict arose on the stairway, and in all the halls and apartments of the palace. The conflict extended to all the streets of the city, and the work of slaughter was carried on all over Cairo.

Taker Pacha is dead, murdered! The magnificence of the new caimacan is at an end after a rule of scarcely twenty days. The intelligence reaches Gheezeh, where the Mamelukes are encamped, and where the sarechsme Mohammed Ali is sojourning. He smiles as he hears it.

"I told you to wait. But now I say, let us hasten to Cairo! Let messengers be sent to my troops, instructing them to march out to meet us, and the Armenians will, I think, also join us. The time has come. Let us hasten to Cairo, ye Mameluke beys!"

The camp resounds with shouts of delight, and the Mameluke beys mount their steeds, and place themselves at the head of their followers to begin the march.

Mohammed Ali also mounts his horse, but, before he turns, glances around, and sees the Bedouin sheik Arnhyn, who is about to mount his dromedary, and calls him to his side.

"Well, Arnhyn, your dromedary is here, but I miss your daughter in the palanquin!"

"She is at home in the tent awaiting my return, sarechsme!"

"In her father's tent, still?" said Mohammed, smiling. "She has not yet followed to his tent him who has kissed her, and made her his wife?"

"No, sarechsme, she is still in her father's tent, and there, she says, she will remain. Many fine young men have wooed her, for she has been made rich by the spoils her father gathered on the plain of Damanhour. Yes, Arnhyn will give his daughter a rich dowry, and there are wooers enough. But Butheita is a strange child! When a handsome suitor comes, and I beg her to follow him to his tent, she shakes her head, rejects his gifts, and laughs at his sweet words. 'You are ugly!' says she, laughing. 'I will love only the handsomest of men, and him only will I follow to his tent.' That is what Butheita says, sarechsme!"

"And that is what she should say," replied Mohammed, smiling. "Bear a greeting to Butheita from me, when you return home, sheik, and tell her she is right in waiting until he comes whom she will gladly follow to his tent, and who may kiss her. Tell her to wait patiently, for Allah will surely send her the man she can love. Greet Butheita for me."

He mounts his horse, and gallops off to where the Mameluke beys are awaiting him in order to begin their march to Cairo.

The Mameluke beys and Mohammed Ali enter Cairo in triumph. Taher Pacha's Armenians have joined him, and, together with his Albanians, they form a magnificent corps. The delighted people of Cairo cry out to Mohammed: "Oh, give us peace, brave sarechsme! Let the day of peace at last dawn over unhappy Cairo!"

Mohammed had conferred with the leaders of the Armenians, and, with their consent, the citadel was tendered the Mameluke beys as a residence. They joyfully accepted it, and proudly took up their abode in the fortress.

Mohammed Ali, however, returned to his own house, and when he had reached the retirement of his apartment, and no one could see, he raised his arm threateningly in the direction of the citadel.

"You are in my residence, ye Mamelukes," muttered he. "You are now the toasters of Cairo, but I swear that I will drive you out of my palace, as I drove out the viceroy, Cousrouf Pacha. I am awaiting my time. It has not yet come, but I now know that it will come!"

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