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The Pacha of Many Tales By Frederick Marryat Characters: 7879

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Although the pacha, with the usual diplomacy of a Turk, had, so far from expressing his displeasure against Mustapha, treated him with more than usual urbanity, he had not forgotten the advice of the old woman. Suspicion once raised was not to be allayed, and he had consulted with his favourite wife, Fatima. A woman is a good adviser in cases of this description. The only danger which could threaten the pacha was from the imperial court at Stamboul; for the troops were devoted to him, and the people of the country had no very serious cause of complaint. By the advice of the favourite, the pacha sent as a present to Mustapha, a young and handsome Greek girl, but she was a spy in the service of the favourite, and had been informed that the vizier had been doomed. She was to discover, if she could, whether there was any intercourse between the renegade, who commanded the fleet, and the vizier, as from that quarter alone danger could be anticipated. The Greek had not been a week in the harem of Mustapha, before she ascertained more than was sufficient. The fleet had been sent to Constantinople, with presents to the sultan from the pacha, and its return was hourly expected.

It was on the afternoon of this eventful day that the fleet hove in sight, and lay becalmed a few miles in the offing. Mustapha hastened to report it to the pacha, as he sat in his divan, hearing complaints, and giving judgment, although not justice. Now when the pacha heard that the fleet had returned, his heart misgave him, and the more so, as Mustapha was more obsequious and fawning than ever. He retired for a short time from the divan, and hastened to his favourite, Fatima.

"Pacha," said she, "the fleet has arrived, and Mustapha has already communicated with the renegade. Depend upon it you are lost, if you do not forestall them. Lose no time. But stop," said she, "do not alarm the renegade by violence to Mustapha. To-morrow the fleet will anchor, and if there is mischief, it will not arrive until to-morrow-but this evening, you will as usual send for coffee, while you smoke and listen to the tales which you delight in. Drink not your coffee, for there shall be death in it. Be all smiles and good-humour, and leave me to manage the rest."

The pacha smoothed his brow and returned to the divan. Business proceeded as usual, and at length the audience was closed. The pacha appeared to be in high good-humour, and so was the vizier.

"Surely," said Mustapha, when the pipes were brought, "his imperial highness, the sultan will have sent you some mark of his distinguished favour."

"God is great, and the sultan is wise," replied the pacha. "I have been thinking so too, Mustapha. Who knows but that he may add to the territory under my sway by another pachalik?"

"I dreamt as much," replied Mustapha, "and I am anxious that the renegade should come on shore; but it is now dark, and he will not leave his vessel."

"We must drive away the mists of suspense by the sunbeams of hope," replied the pacha. "What am I but the sultan's slave? Shall we not indulge this evening in the water of the Giaour?"

"What saith Hafiz? It is for wine to exalt men, and raise them beyond uncertainty and doubt. It overfloweth us with courage, and imparts visions of bliss."

"Wallah Thaib, it is well said, Mustapha," said the pacha, taking a cup of coffee, presented by the Greek slave. Mustapha also received his cup. "My heart is light this evening," said the pacha, laying down his pipe, "let us drink deep of the forbidden juice. Where is it, Mustapha?"

"It is here," replied the vizier, drinking off his coffee; while the pacha watched him from the corner of his small grey eye. And Mustapha produced the spirits, which were behind the low ottoman upon which he was seated.

The pacha put aside his coffee, and drank a large draught. "God is great; drink, Mustapha," said he, handing him the bottle.

Mustapha follo

wed the example of the pacha. "May it please your highness," said Mustapha, "I have without a man, who they say hath stories to recount more delightful than those of Menouni. Hearing that he passed through this city, I have detained him, that he might afford amusement to your highness, whose slave I am. Is it your pleasure that he be admitted?"

"Let it be so," replied the pacha.

Mustapha gave the sign, and to the surprise of the pacha, in came the renegade, commander of the fleet, accompanied by guards and the well-known officer of the caliph, the Capidji Bachi, who held up a firman to his forehead.

The pacha turned pale, for he knew that his hour was come. "Bismillah! In the name of the Most High, O officer, whom seekest thou?" exclaimed the pacha, with emotion.

"The sultan, the Lord of Life, has sent this to you, O pacha! as a proof of his indulgence and great mercy." And the Capidji Bachi produced a silken bowstring, and at the same time he handed the fatal scroll to the pacha.

"Mustapha," whispered the pacha, "while I read this, collect my guards; I will resist. I fear not the sultan at this distance, and I can soften him with presents."

But Mustapha had no such fellow-feeling. "O pacha!" replied he, "who can dispute the will of heaven's vicegerent? There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet."

"I will dispute it," exclaimed the pacha. "Go out and call my trustiest guards."

Mustapha left the divan, and returned with the mutes and some of the guards, who had been suborned by himself.

"Traitor!" exclaimed the pacha.

"La Allah, il Allah! there is but one God," said Mustapha.

The pacha saw that he was sacrificed. He read the firman, pressed it to his forehead, in token of obedience, and prepared for death. The Capidji Bachi produced another firman, and presented it to Mustapha. It was to raise him to the pachalik.

"Barik Allah! praise be to God for all things," humbly observed

Mustapha. "What am I but the sultan's slave, and to execute his orders?

On my head be it!"

Mustapha gave the sign, and the mutes seized the unfortunate pacha.

"There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet," said the pacha. "Mustapha," continued he, turning round to him with a sardonic smile, "may your shadow never be less-but you have swallowed the coffee."

The mutes tightened the string. In a minute a cloak was thrown over the body of the pacha.

"The coffee," muttered Mustapha, as he heard the pacha's last words. "I thought it had a taste. Now he's sent to Jehanum for his treachery." And all the visions of power and grandeur, which had filled the mind of the new pacha, were absorbed by fear and dismay.

The Capidji Bachi, having performed his duty, withdrew. "And now," exclaimed the renegade, "let me have my promised reward."

"Your reward-true. I had forgotten," replied Mustapha, as the pain occasioned by the working of the poison distorted his face. "Yes, I had forgotten," continued Mustapha, who, certain that his own end was approaching, was furious as a wild beast, with pain and baffled ambition. "Yes, I had forgotten. Guards, seize the renegade."

"They must be quicker than you think for," replied Huckaback, darting from the guards and drawing his scimitar, while, with his fingers in his mouth, he gave a shrill whistle. In rushed a large body of soldiers and sailors of the fleet, and the guards were disarmed. "Now, pacha of one hour old, what sayest thou?"

"It is my destiny," replied Mustapha, rolling on the floor in agony. "There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet." And Mustapha expired.

"The old fool has saved me some trouble," observed the renegade. "Take away these carcases, and proclaim Ali as the new pacha."

Thus perished the two barbers, and thus did Huckaback, under the name of Ali, reign in their stead. But his reign, and how long it lasted, is one of the many tales not handed down to posterity.

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