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   Chapter 13 COURSCHID PACHA.

Mohammed Ali and His House By L. Muhlbach Characters: 10930

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


A new viceroy is enthroned in Cairo, the viceroy Courschid Pacha, and it is again the old story of wars, want of money, and oppression of the people.

Courschid Pacha! What is he but a continuation of all the other viceroys, governors, and caimacans who have ruled in Cairo since Egypt has belonged to the Turkish empire? New taxes, new extortion, and new wars. For the Mameluke beys have assembled on the plain of Gheezeh and formed new plans, recruited their ranks with Arabians and Nubians, and prepared to take the field against the rulers in Cairo, and above all against their most hated enemy, the pacha Mohammed Ali.

Such was the dignity conferred upon Mohammed by Courschid Pacha, upon his entrance into Cairo, in the name of the grand sultan.

It is not to war against Courschid Pacha that the Mamelukes are assembling their forces. To destroy Mohammed Ali, the soldier-king, the real ruler in Cairo, is their aim; and, in order to accomplish this, they even humble themselves before the viceroy, who is already involved in a conflict with Mohammed. They seek to treat with him, and with the grand-admiral of the Turkish fleet, sent by the Sublime Porte to Alexandria to restore peace to the distracted country. To him, the grand-admiral, the Mameluke beys address a letter offering their services:

"The undersigned, knowing that your highness has come to Egypt to put an end to the anarchy that prevails, offer, in the name of all the beys, to unite their forces with those of Courschid Pacha, and to assist him and your highness in all you may do and undertake, provided Mohammed Ali and the Albanians be driven from the country."

This proposition receives the approval of Courschid Pacha, who hates Mohammed as heartily as the Mamelukes do! Mohammed is the people's idol. To him they apply for relief from oppression, and, whenever there is any thing to be demanded of the viceroy, it is Mohammed, supported by the cadis and sheiks, who loudly demands that right and justice be done. Merely this: "Right and justice!" But this it is that Courschid cannot accord them. He cannot accord right and justice, he who is always in want and danger, he who is suffering with the disease that has so long cursed the viceroys of Egypt-want of money. When money is needed, it must be had, even if extorted from the inhabitants of Cairo and its vicinity. And Mohammed often interposes and prevents Courschid from executing his money-raising schemes.

Courschid Pacha, incensed by this interference, complains to the sultan at Stamboul, and requests that the sarecbsme, Mohammed Ali, be relieved from duty at Cairo, and assigned to duty elsewhere. At the same time, in order to make himself independent of the Albanians, who are wholly under the influence of Mohammed Ali, he causes a body of troops to be brought to Cairo for himself, a body of Delis, wild, lawless troops, who carry terror and dismay wherever they go. These Delis are now seen in Egypt for the first time; the viceroy treats them tenderly, and Courschid, who has money for no one else, has money for his Delis; and when he has none, he delivers over to their mercy some village in the vicinity of Cairo, out of which they pay themselves by pillage.

At last a day came when the people, so long bowed down in the dust, arose like a lion, and refused to yield longer to such oppression.

"We will endure this no more; we will submit to this injustice and oppression no longer!"

The cadis and sheiks repair to the citadel to announce the determination of the people to the viceroy.

"The people refuse to submit further to this oppression. Neither they nor we will endure it."

They say this to his face, proudly, fearlessly. He replies fiercely: "I will hurl death into your midst if the people are not brought back to humility and obedience, for I am your master-I alone!"

"You are our master while we recognize you as such, and no longer," replied the cadi, turning and leaving the room, followed by the sheiks.

In the streets below he announces to the people: "Justice is not to be obtained of Courschid Pacha, and we will submit to him no more!"

"No, we can and will not submit," say the cadi and sheiks, who, accompanied by thousands of the people, have repaired to the palace of the sarechsme.

"We announce to you, Mohammed Ali, in the name of the whole people, we will recognize and obey Courschid Pacha no longer. This man's cruelty and injustice are no longer to be endured."

"We declare him removed from his office; we declare him deposed from the throne," cried the cadi, solemnly; and the sheiks repeat the cry: "We declare him removed from his office; we declare him deposed from the throne!"

And in the streets without, the people shout exultingly: "We declare him deposed from the throne!"

Mohammed listens to these unusual outcries, and his countenance is grave and solemn.

"You depose him from the throne, O cadi! But whom will you put in his place?"

He asks the question slowly and quietly, and no one knows how wildly his heart throbs within him. He is aware that the crisis is at hand, and that what he has dreamed of since his boyhood, and worked and toiled for during four long years, is now about to be decided. "Whom will you put in his place?"

"Yourself, Mohammed Ali!" cried the cadi, solemnly. "Yes; you must rule in Courschid Pauha's stead, for we are convinced that your aim will be the welfare of the people."

"

Me!" said Mohammed Ali, recoiling a step as if startled, and the pallor which overspread his face could have been caused by alarm as well as by joy.

"No, it is impossible, you cannot select me; I am not worthy of so great an honor."

"You are worthy of this honor, and the people invest you with it through me," cried the cadi. "Come, Mohammed Ali, Caimacan of Cairo, our governor and master! I proclaim you to be such, in the name of the people."

While Mohammed silently shakes his head, the cadi hastily throws open the wide doors that lead out upon the balcony of the house, steps out and proclaims, in such loud tones that the assembled thousands who fill the spacious square can hear him:

"Coursechid Pacha is deposed, and we elect Mohammed Ali Pacha to be our governor! Is this your will?"

"It is our will!" shout the populace, exultingly. "Courschid is deposed, and Mohammed Ali is our governor! Long live Mohammed Ali!"

His head bowed down on his breast, Mohammed stands listening to the grateful words: "Long live Mohammed Ali!"

The cadi re-enters the apartment. "You have heard their voice! Now show yourself to the people. They have chosen you. Step out upon the balcony with us, that they may salute you."

"It shall be as you say," said he, after a pause. "The people call me, and I will greet them. May Allah assist me in advancing their welfare!"

The cadi takes his hand and leads him out. Without, the assembled thousands shout exultingly: "Long live our new governor! Our caimacan! Our viceroy! Long live Mohammed Ali Pacha!"

These strains resound so loudly through the city, that they reach the citadel. Everywhere in the streets exulting voices cry: "Courschid Pacba is deposed, and Mohammed Ali is our governor!"

"I am alone viceroy here in Cairo," is the burden of a missive penned by Courschid in the citadel, and, sent down by him to the cadi and sheiks. "I alone am viceroy. Upon me the grand-sultan at Stamboul has conferred this dignity, and a message will soon come from our master announcing to you his decision with regard to the rebel, Mohammed Ali. Until then I will assert my authority, and I appeal to all faithful subjects, and to all who do not wish to hazard their future with the rebels, and to perish with them, to rally to the support of their lawful ruler."

And large numbers did so, many fearing, no doubt, the decision expected from Stamboul.

But Mohammed was undaunted, and besieged the citadel of Cairo with his faithful Albanians.

The bloody struggle arose between the besiegers and the besieged. The cannon thundered death and destruction into the city, and, when vigorous sorties occurred, the conflict sometimes surged far down into the streets. But finally, after four days of fierce fighting, the expected message arrived from Stamboul, and an unexpected one it proved to be, to the viceroy, Courschid Pacha.

The grand-vizier had sent one of his confidants with the capidgi bashi, with instructions to investigate, and make himself thoroughly acquainted with the state of things, and learn who was right, and who wrong; and the capidgi, and his associate, had done so; and now, upon their arrival in Cairo, they summoned the cadi and sheiks, and announced to them, and to Mohammed Ali, the firman of the grand- sultan: "Mohammed Ali is confirmed in his office of Governor of Cairo and Viceroy of Egypt; and the deposed viceroy, Courschid Pacha, is ordered to repair to Alexandria, there to await the further orders of his master."

A copy of this firman is sent up to the citadel, and Courschid commanded to surrender the fortress, and leave the city immediately. He at first declined to surrender, and demanded an interview with the capidgi bashi and his associate. This was, however, refused him, and he was at last compelled to yield, and give up the citadel. Through the little side-gate that leads down to the Nile, Courschid, accompanied by a few faithful followers, left the citadel, and was conveyed in boats, that lay in readiness, down the river to Boulak. From there, after a brief sojourn, he continued his journey to Alexandria, and then on to Stamboul.

While Courschid is descending the secret stairway to leave the citadel, Mohammed All and his warriors are ascending the hill in triumph, marching to the strains of stirring military music. The garrison of the fortress lay down their arms, and all cry, exultingly: "Long live Mohammed Ali, our new viceroy!" He still hears it as he enters the grand apartment where Courschid has been in the habit of receiving him. He still hears it as he steps out upon the wall of the fortress, and looks down upon the wondrous city, at the Nile, at the palm-trees on the green shore beyond, and at the yellow desert, on whose verge the pyramids tower aloft.

"Long live our new viceroy, Mohammed Ali!"

This cry resounds from a thousand voices, and Mohammed gazes out upon the beautiful, heavenly world that is now his own, and an ecstasy that almost makes his heart stand still, possesses his soul.

"Long live the Viceroy of Egypt!"

"I have reached my goal. I am the viceroy. They greet me with shouts of joy, and wish me a long life. I will endeavor to reward them. Poor, bleeding Egypt, shall progress under my rule. I will endeavor to bring prosperity and happiness to those who have suffered so much. This I swear, by Allah! I will raise this poor land up out of the dust. Yes, I swear it, by Allah!"

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