THE PACHA OF MANY TALES
List of Tales
Story of the Camel-Driver Story of the Greek Slave Story of the Monk Story of the Monk (continued) Huckaback Manuscript of the Monk Third Voyage of Huckaback Fourth Voyage of Huckaback Fifth Voyage of Huckaback Sixth Voyage of Huckaback The Last Voyage of Huckaback The Scarred Lover The Story of Hudusi Tale of the English Sailor The Water-Carrier The Wondrous Tale of Han Story of the Old Woman
The Pacha of Many Tales, as indeed its title suggests, is constructed in direct imitation of the Arabian Nights. A Pacha of olden days, enchanted by the stories of Schezehezerade, becomes emulous of the great Haroun, and determines to procure his own stock of entertainment. By the assistance of a wily barber-vizier he succeeds in the attempt, and listens with greedy credulity to the marvellous histories herein set forth.
On one occasion an English sailor is dragged into the august presence, and demands, with all the dogged independence of his race, the reasons for such treatment.
"You must tell lies, and you will have gold," replies the vizier.
"Tell lies," says Jack Tar, "that is, spin yarns. Well, I can do that."
The volume before us could not be more suggestively described. It is a collection of admirable short stories of intrigue and adventure, traveller's wonders narrated with a perfect air of good faith and no regard for truth or probability. All the countries on the globe, and many existing only in the imagination, are called into requisition to produce a brilliant phantasmagoria of manners and customs. The stories move rapidly and defy criticism by the very occasion of their being, invented to amuse and astonish a jaded autocrat.
Hence we feel no shock in reading of an island where the commonest utensils are made of gold, a nursery of whales, five months in the interior of an iceberg, or a journey among the clouds during a thunderstorm. The demand for brevity strengthens Marryat's style, and saves him from padding. He is very happy in contriving expediences, and evinces considerable wit in the conception, for instance, of Yussuf the water-carrier. Some of the stories, again, are really dramatic, and the "Second Voyage of Huckaback" (p. 126) reaches a height of weird horror that recalls, without paling before the thought, certain passages in The Ancient Mariner.
* * * * *
The Pacha of Many Tales was first published in The Metropolitan Magazine, 1831-1835. During its appearance Marryat printed in the same magazine (in 1833) a drama, The Monk of Seville, of which the plot is almost exactly identical with The Story of the Monk (p. 44). "Port Royal Tom," the shark, and his Government pension, also appear in Jacob Faithful, Chap. XXV.
The Pacha of Many Tales is here printed, with a few corrections, from the second edition in 3 vols. A.K. Newman & Co., 1844.
Every one acquainted with the manners and customs of the East must be aware, that there is no situation of eminence more unstable, or more dangerous to its possessor, than that of a pacha. Nothing, perhaps, affords us more convincing proof of the risk which men will incur, to obtain a temporary authority over their fellow-creatures, than the avidity with which this office is accepted from the sultan; who, within the memory of the new occupant, has consigned scores of his predecessors to the bowstring. It would almost appear, as if the despot but elevated a head from the crowd, that he might obtain a more fair and uninterrupted sweep for his scimitar, when he cut it off; only exceeded in his peculiar taste by the king of Dahomy, who is said to ornament the steps of his palace with heads, fresh severed, each returning sun, as we renew the decoration of our apartments from our gay parterres. I make these observations, that I may not be accused of a disregard to chronology, in not precisely stating the year, or rather the months, during which flourished one of a race, who, like the flowers of the Cistus, one morning in all their splendour, on the next, are strewed lifeless on the ground to make room for their successors. Speaking of such ephemeral creations, it will be quite sufficient to say, "There was a Pacha."
Would you inquire by what means he was raised to the distinction? It is an idle question. In this world, preeminence over your fellow-creatures can only be obtained, by leaving others far behind in the career of virtue or of vice. In compliance with the dispositions of those who rule, faithful service in the one path or the other will shower honour upon the subject, and by the breath of kings he becomes ennobled to look down upon his former equals.
And as the world spins round, the why is of little moment. The honours are bequeathed, but not the good, or the evil deeds, or the talents by which they were obtained. In the latter, we have but a life interest, for the entail is cut off by death. Aristocracy in all its varieties is as necessary, for the well binding of society, as the divers grades between the general and the common soldier are essential in the field. Never then inquire, why this or that man has been raised above his fellows; but, each night as you retire to bed, thank Heaven that you are not a King.
And if I may digress, there is one badge of honour in our country, which I never contemplate without serious reflection rising in my mind. It is the bloody hand in the dexter chief of a baronet,—now often worn, I grant, by those who, perhaps, during their whole lives have never raised their hands in anger. But my thoughts have returned to days of yore—the iron days of ironed men, when it was the symbol of faithful service in the field—when it really was bestowed upon the "hand embrued in blood;" and I have meditated, whether that hand, displayed with exultation in this world, may not be held up trembling in the next—in judgment against itself.
And I, whose memory stepping from one legal murder to another, can walk dry-footed over the broad space of five-and-twenty years of time,—but the "damned spots" won't come out—so I'll put my hands in my pockets and walk on.
Conscience, fortunately or unfortunately, I hardly can tell which, permits us to form political and religious creeds, most suited to disguise or palliate our sins. Mine is a military conscience, and I agree with Bates and Williams, who flourished in the time of Henry V., that it is "all upon the King:" that is to say, it was all upon the king; and now our constitution has become so incomparably perfect, that "the king can do no wrong;" and he has no difficulty in finding ministers, who voluntarily impignorating themselves for all his actions in this world, will, in all probability, not escape from the clutches of the great Pawnbroker in the next—from which facts I draw the following conclusions:—
1st. That his Majesty (God bless him!) will go to heaven.
2ndly. That his Majesty's ministers will all go to the devil.
3rdly. That I shall go———on with my story.
As, however, a knowledge of the previous history of our pacha will be necessary to the development of our story, the reader will in this instance be indulged. He had been brought up to the profession of a barber; but, possessing great personal courage, he headed a popular commotion in favour of his predecessor, and was rewarded by a post of some importance in the army. Successful in detached service, while his general was unfortunate in the field, he was instructed to take off the head of his commander, and head the troops in his stead; both of which services he performed with equal skill and celerity. Success attended him, and the pacha, his predecessor, having in his opinion, as well as in that of the sultan, remained an unusual time in office, by an accusation enforced by a thousand purses of gold, he was enabled to produce a bowstring for his benefactor; and the sultan's "firman" appointed him to the vacant pachalik. His qualifications for office were all superlative: he was very short, very corpulent, very illiterate, very irascible, and very stupid.
On the morning after his investment, he was under the hands of his barber, a shrewd intelligent Greek, Mustapha by name. Barbers are privileged persons for many reasons: running from one employer to another to obtain their livelihood, they also obtain matter for conversation, which, impertinent as it may sometimes be, serves to beguile the tedium of an operation which precludes the use of any organ except the ear. Moreover, we are inclined to be on good terms with a man, who has it in his power to cut our throats whenever he pleases—to wind up, the personal liberties arising from his profession, render all others trifling; for the man who takes his sovereign by the nose, cannot well after that be denied the liberty of speech.
Mustapha was a Greek by birth, and inherited all the intelligence and adroitness of his race. He had been brought up to his profession when a slave; but at the age of nineteen, he accompanied his master on board of a merchant vessel bound to Scio; this vessel was taken by a pirate, and Demetrius (for such was his real name) joined this band of miscreants, and very faithfully served his apprenticeship to cutting throats, until the vessel was captured by an English frigate. Being an active, intelligent person, he was, at his own request, allowed to remain on board as one of the ship's company, assisted in several actions, and after three years went to England, where the ship was paid off. For some time, Demetrius tried to make his fortune, but without success, and it was not until he was reduced to nearly his last shilling, that he commenced the trade of hawking rhubarb about in a box: which speculation turned so profitable, that he was enabled in a short time to take his passage in a vessel bound to Smyrna, his own country. This vessel was captured by a French privateer; he was landed, and, not being considered as a prisoner, allowed to act as he thought proper. In a short time he obtained the situation of valet and barber to a "millionaire," whom he contrived to rob of a few hundred Napoleons, and with them to make his escape to his own country. Demetrius had now some knowledge of the world, and he felt it necessary that he should become a True Believer, as there would be more chance of his advancement in a Turkish country. He dismissed the patriarch to the devil, and took up the turban and Mahomet; then quitting the scene of his apostasy, recommenced his profession of barber in the territory of the pacha; whose good-will he had obtained previous to the latter's advancement to the pachalik.
"Mustapha," observed the pacha, "thou knowest that I have taken off the heads of all those who left their slippers at the door of the late pacha."
"Allah Kebur! God is most powerful! So perish the enemies of your sublime highness. Were they not the sons of Shitan?" replied Mustapha.
"Very true; but, Mustapha, the consequence is that I am in want of a vizier; and whom do I know equal to that office?"
"While your sublime highness is pacha, is not a child equal to the office? Who stumbles, when guided by unerring wisdom?"
"I know that very well," replied the pacha; "but if I am always to direct him, I might as well be vizier myself; besides, I shall have no one to blame, if affairs go wrong with the Sultan. Inshallah! please the Lord, the vizier's head may sometimes save my own."
"Are we not as dogs before you?" replied Mustapha: "happy the man, who, by offering his own head may preserve that of your sublime highness! It ought to be the proudest day of his life."
"At all events it would be the last," rejoined the pacha.
"May it please your sublime highness," observed Mustapha, after a pause, "if your slave may be so honoured as to speak in your presence, a vizier should be a person of great tact; he should be able to draw the line as nicely as I do when I shave your sublime head, leaving not a vestige of the hair, yet entering not upon the skin."
"Very true, Mustapha."
"He should have a sharp eye for the disaffected to the government, selecting them and removing them from among the crowd, as I do the few white hairs which presume to make their appearance in your sublime and magnificent beard."
"Very true, Mustapha."
"He should carefully remove all impurities from the state, as I have this morning from your sublime ears."
"Very true, Mustapha."
"He should be well acquainted with the secret springs of action, as I have proved myself to be in the shampooing which your sublime highness has just received."
"Very true, Mustapha."
"Moreover, he should be ever grateful to your highness for the distinguished honour conferred upon him."
"All that you say is very true, Mustapha, but where am I to meet with such a man?"
"This world is convenient in some points," continued Mustapha; "if you want either a fool or a knave, you have not far to go to find them; but it is no easy task to select the person you require. I know but one."
"And who is he?"
"One whose head is but as your footstool," answered the barber, prostrating himself,—"your sublime highness's most devoted slave, Mustapha."
"Holy Prophet! Then you mean yourself!—Well, now I think of it, if one barber can become a pacha, I do not see why another would not make a vizier. But then what am I to do for a barber? No, no, Mustapha; a good vizier is easy to be found, but a good barber, you know as well as I do, requires some talent."
"Your slave is aware of that," replied Mustapha, "but he has travelled in other countries, where it is no uncommon circumstance for men to hold more than one office under government; sometimes much more incompatible than those of barber and vizier, which are indeed closely connected. The affairs of most nations are settled by the potentates during their toilet. While I am shaving the head of your sublime highness, I can receive your commands to take off the heads of others; and you can have your person and your state both put in order at the same moment."
"Very true, Mustapha; then, on condition that you continue your office of barber, I have no objection to throw that of vizier into the bargain."
Mustapha again prostrated himself, with his tweezers in his hand. He then rose, and continued his office.
"You can write, Mustapha," observed the pacha, after a short silence.
"Min Allah! God forbid that I should acknowledge it, or I should consider myself as unfit to assume the office in which your sublime highness has invested me."
"Although unnecessary for me, I thought it might be requisite for a vizier," observed the pacha.
"Reading may be necessary, I will allow," replied Mustapha; "but I trust I can soon prove to your highness that writing is as dangerous as it is useless. More men have been ruined by that unfortunate acquirement, than by any other; and dangerous as it is to all, it is still more dangerous to men in high power. For instance, your sublime highness sends a message in writing, which is ill-received, and it is produced against you; but had it been a verbal message, you could deny it, and bastinado to death the Tartar who carried it, as a proof of your sincerity.
"Very true, Mustapha."
"The grandfather of your slave," continued the barber-vizier, "held the situation of receiver-general at the custom-house; and he was always in a fury when he was obliged to take up the pen. It was his creed, that no government could prosper when writing was in general use. 'Observe, Mustapha,' said he to me one day, 'here is the curse of writing,—for all the money which is paid in, I am obliged to give a receipt. What is the consequence? that government loses many thousand sequins every year; for when I apply to them for a second payment, they produce their receipt. Now if it had not been for this cursed invention of writing, Inshallah! they should have paid twice, if not thrice over. Remember, Mustapha,' continued he, 'that reading and writing only clog the wheels of government.'"
"Very true, Mustapha," observed the pacha, "then we will have no writing."
"Yes, your sublime highness, every thing in writing from others, but nothing in writing from ourselves. I have a young Greek slave, who can be employed in these matters. He reads well. I have lately employed him in reading to me the stories of 'Thousand and one Nights.'"
"Stories," cried the pacha; "what are they about? I never heard of them; I'm very fond of stories."
"If it would pleasure your sublime highness to hear these stories read, the slave will wait your commands," replied the vizier.
"Bring him this evening, Mustapha; we will smoke a pipe, and listen to them; I'm very fond of stories—they always send me to sleep."
The business of the day was transacted with admirable precision and despatch by the two quondam barbers, who proved how easy it is to govern, where there are not "three estates" to confuse people. They sat in the divan as highwaymen loiter on the road, and it was "Your money or your life" to all who made their appearance.
At the usual hour the court broke up, the guards retired, the money was carried to the treasury, the executioner wiped his sword, and the lives of the pacha's subjects were considered to be in a state of comparative security, until the affairs of the country were again brought under their cognizance on the ensuing day.
In obedience to the wish expressed by the pacha, Mustapha made his appearance in the afternoon with the young Greek slave. The new vizier having taken a seat upon a cushion at the feet of the pacha, the pipes were lighted, and the slave was directed to proceed.
The Greek had arrived to the end of the First Night, in which Schezehezerade commences her story, and the Sultan, who was anxious to hear the termination of it, defers her execution to the following day.
"Stop," cried the pacha, taking the pipe from his lips; "how long before the break of day did that girl call her sister?"
"About half an hour, your sublime highness."
"Wallah! is that all she could tell of her story in half an hour?—There's not a woman in my harem who would not say as much in five minutes."
The pacha was so amused with the stories, that he never once felt inclined to sleep; on the contrary, the Greek slave was compelled to read every afternoon, until his legs were so tired that he could hardly stand, and his tongue almost refused its office; consequently, they were soon finished; and Mustapha not being able to procure any more, they were read a second time. After which the pacha, who felt the loss of his evening's amusement, became first puzzled how to pass away his time; then he changed to hypochondriacism, and finally became so irritable, that even Mustapha himself, at times, approached him with some degree of awe.
"I have been thinking," observed the pacha, one morning, when under the hands of Mustapha, in his original capacity, "that it would be as easy for me to have stories told me, as the caliph in the Arabian Nights."
"I wonder not that your highness should desire it. Those stories are as the opium to Theriarkis, filling the soul with visions of delight at the moment, but leaving it palsied from over-excitement, when their effect has passed away. How does your sublime highness propose to obtain your end; and in what manner can your slave assist to produce your wishes?"
"I shall manage it without assistance; come this evening and you shall see, Mustapha."
Mustapha made his appearance in the afternoon, and the pacha smoked his pipe for some time, and appeared as if communing with himself; he then laid it down, and clapping his hands, desired one of the slaves to inform his favourite lady, Zeinab, that he desired her presence.
Zeinab entered with her veil down. "Your slave attends the pleasure of her lord."
"Zeinab," said the pacha, "do you love me?"
"Do not I worship the dust that my lord treads on?"
"Very true—then I have a favour to request—observe, Zeinab—it is my wish that"—(here the pacha took a few whiffs from his pipe—) "The fact is—I wish you to dishonour my harem as soon as possible."
"Wallah sel Nebi!!—by Allah and the Prophet! your highness is in a merry humour this evening," replied Zeinab, turning round to quit the apartment.
"On the contrary, I am in a serious humour; I mean what I have said; and I expect that you will comply with my wishes."
"Is my lord mad? or has he indulged too freely in the juice of the grape forbidden by our prophet? Allah Kebur! God is most powerful—The Hakim must be sent for."
"Will you do as I order you?" said the pacha, angrily.
"Does my lord send for his slave to insult her! My blood is as water, at the dreadful thought!—Dishonour the harem!—Min Allah! God forbid!—Would not the eunuch be ready and the sack?"
"Yes, they would, I acknowledge; but still it must be done."
"It shall not be done," replied the lady:—"Has my lord been visited by heaven? or is he possessed by the Shitan?"—And the lady burst into tears of rage and vexation as she quitted the apartment.
"There's obstinacy for you—women are nothing but opposition. If you wish them to be faithful, they try day and night to deceive you; give them their desires and tell them to be false, they will refuse. All was arranged so well, I should have cut off all their heads, and had a fresh wife every night until I found one who could tell stories; then I should have rose up and deferred her execution to the following day."
Mustapha, who had been laughing in his sleeve at the strange idea of the pacha, was nevertheless not a little alarmed. He perceived that the mania had such complete possession, that, unless appeased, the results might prove unpleasant even to himself. It occurred to him, that a course might be pursued to gratify the pacha's wishes, without proceeding to such violent measures. Waiting a little while until the colour, which had suffused the pacha's face from anger and disappointment, had subsided, he addressed him:
"The plan of your sublime highness was such as was to be expected from the immensity of your wisdom; but hath not the prophet warned us, that the wisest of men are too often thwarted by the folly and obstinacy of the other sex. May your slave venture to observe, that many very fine stories were obtained by the caliph Haroun, and his vizier Mesrour, as they walked through the city in disguise. In all probability a similar result might be produced, if your highness were to take the same step, accompanied by the lowest of your slaves, Mustapha."
"Very true," replied the pacha, delighted at the prospect, "prepare two disguises, and we will set off in less than an hour—Inshallah, please the Lord, we have at last hit upon the right path."
Mustapha, who was glad to direct the ideas of the pacha into a more harmless channel, procured the dresses of two merchants, (for such, he observed, were the usual habiliments put on by the caliph and his vizier in the Arabian Nights), and he was aware that his master's vanity would be gratified at the idea of imitating so celebrated a personage.
It was dusk when they set off upon their adventures. Mustapha directed some slaves well armed to follow at a distance, in case their assistance might be required. The strict orders which had been issued on the accession of the new pacha (to prevent any riot or popular commotion), which were enforced by constant rounds of the soldiers on guard, occasioned the streets to be quite deserted.
For some time the pacha and Mustapha walked up one street and down another, without meeting with anything or any body that could administer to their wishes. The former, who had not lately been accustomed to pedestrian exercise, began to puff and show symptoms of weariness and disappointment, when at the corner of a street they fell in with two men, who were seated in conversation; and as they approached softly, one of them said to the other, "I tell you, Coja, that happy is the man who can always command a hard crust like this, which is now wearing away my teeth."
"I must know the reason of that remark," said the pacha; "Mesrour (Mustapha, I mean), you will bring that man to me to-morrow, after the divan is closed."
Mustapha bowed in acquiescence, and directing the slaves who were in attendance to take the man into custody, followed the pacha, who, fatigued with his unusual excursion, and satisfied with the prospect of success, now directed his steps to the palace and retired to bed. Zeinab, who had lain awake until her eyes could remain open no longer, with the intention of reading him a lecture upon decency and sobriety, had at last fallen asleep, and the tired pacha was therefore permitted to do the same.
When Mustapha arrived at his own abode, he desired that the person who had been detained should be brought to him.
"My good man," said the vizier, "you made an observation this evening which was overheard by his highness the pacha, who wishes to be acquainted with your reasons for stating 'that happy was the man who could at all times command a hard crust, like that which was wearing away your teeth.'"
The man fell down on his knees in trepidation. "I do declare to your highness, by the camel of the Holy Prophet," said he, in a faltering voice, "that I neither meant treason, nor disaffection to the government."
"Slave! I am not quite sure of that," replied Mustapha, with a stern look, in hopes of frightening the man into a compliance with his wishes—"there was something very enigmatical in those words. Your 'hard crust' may mean his sublime highness the pacha; 'wearing away your teeth' may imply exactions from the government; and as you affirmed that he was happy who could command the hard crust—why it is as much as to say that you would be very glad to create a rebellion."
"Holy Prophet! May the soul of your slave never enter the first heaven," replied the man, "if he meant anything more than what he said; and if your highness had been as often without a mouthful of bread as your slave has been, you would agree with him in the justice of the remark."
"It is of little consequence whether I agree with you or not," replied the vizier; "I have only to tell you that his sublime highness the pacha will not be satisfied, unless you explain away the remark, by relating to him some story connected with the observation."
"Min Allah! God forbid that your slave should tell a story to deceive his highness."
"The Lord have mercy upon you if you do not," replied the vizier; "but, to be brief, if you can invent a good and interesting story, you will remove the suspicions of the pacha, and probably be rewarded with a few pieces of gold; if you cannot, you must prepare for the bastinado, if not for death. You will not be required to appear in the sublime presence before to-morrow afternoon, and will therefore have plenty of time to invent one."
"Will your highness permit your slave to go home and consult his wife? Women have a great talent for storytelling. With her assistance he may be able to comply with your injunctions."
"No," replied Mustapha, "you must remain in custody; but, as on this occasion she may be of the greatest assistance to you, you may send for her. They have indeed a talent! As the young crocodile, from instinct, runs into the Nile as soon as it bursts its shell, so does woman, from her nature, plunge into deceit, before even her tongue can give utterance to the lies which her fertile imagination has already conceived."
And with this handsome compliment to the sex, Mustapha gave his final orders and retired.
Whether the unfortunate man, thus accused of treason, derived any benefit from being permitted to "retain counsel," will be shown by the following story, which he told to the pacha when summoned on the ensuing day.
STORY OF THE CAMEL-DRIVER.
That your highness should wish for an explanation of the very doubtful language which you overheard last night, I am not surprised; but I trust you will acknowledge, when I have finished my narrative, that I was fully justified in the expressions which I made use of. I am by birth (as my dress denotes) a Fellah of this country, but I was not always so poor as I am now. My father was the possessor of many camels, which he let out for hire to the merchants of the different caravans which annually leave this city. When he died, I came into possession of his property, and the good-will of those whom he had most faithfully served. The consequence was, that I had full employ, my camels were always engaged, and, as I invariably accompanied them that they might not be ill-treated, I have several times been to Mecca, as this ragged green turban will testify. My life was one of alternate difficulty and enjoyment. I returned to my wife and children with delight after my journeys of suffering and privation, and fully appreciated the value of my home from the short time that my occupation would permit me to remain there. I worked hard and became rich.
It was during a painful march through the Desert with one of the caravans, that a favourite she-camel foaled. At first it was my intention to leave the young one to its fate, as my camels had already suffered much; but, on examination, the creature showed such strength and symmetry that I resolved to bring it up. I therefore divided half of one of the loads between the other camels, and tied the foal upon the one which I had partly relieved for the purpose. We arrived safely at Cairo; and, as the little animal grew up, I had more than ever reason to be satisfied that I had saved its life. All good judges considered it a prodigy of beauty and strength, and prophesied that it would some day be selected as the holy camel, to carry the Koran in the pilgrimage to Mecca. And so it did happen about five years afterwards, during which interval I accompanied the caravans as before, and each year added to my wealth.
My camel had by this time arrived to his full perfection; he stood nearly three feet higher than any other; and, when the caravan was preparing, I led him to the sheiks, and offered him as a candidate for the honour. They would have accepted him immediately, had it not been for a Maribout, who, for some reason or another, desired them not to employ him, asserting that the caravan would be unlucky if my camel was the bearer of the holy Koran.
As this man was considered to be a prophet, the sheiks were afraid, and would not give a decided answer. Irritated at the Maribout's interference, I reviled him; he raised a hue and cry against me; and, being joined by the populace, I was nearly killed. As I hastened away, the wretch threw some sand after me, crying out, "Thus shall the caravan perish from the judgment of heaven, if that cursed camel is permitted to carry the holy word of the prophet." The consequence was, that an inferior camel was selected, and I was disappointed. But on the ensuing year the Maribout was not at Cairo; and, as there was no animal equal to mine in beauty, it was chosen by the sheiks without a dissentient voice.
I hastened home to my wife, overjoyed with my good fortune, which I hoped would bring a blessing upon my house. She was equally delighted, and my beautiful camel seemed also to be aware of the honour to which he was destined, as he repaid our caresses, curving and twisting his long neck, and laying his head upon our shoulders.
The caravan assembled: it was one of the largest which for many years had quitted Cairo, amounting in all to eighteen thousand camels. You may imagine my pride when, as the procession passed through the streets, I pointed out to my wife the splendid animal, with his bridle studded with jewels and gold, led by the holy sheiks in their green robes, carrying on his back the chest which contained the law of our prophet, looking proudly on each side of him as he walked along, accompanied by bands of music, and the loud chorus of the singing men and women.
As on the ensuing day the caravan was to form outside of the town, I returned home to my family, that I might have the last of their company, having left my other camels, who were hired by the pilgrims, in charge of an assistant who accompanied me in my journeys. The next morning I bade adieu to my wife and children; and was quitting the house, when my youngest child, who was about two years old, called to me, and begged me to return one moment, and give her a farewell caress. As I lifted her in my arms, she, as usual, put her hand into the pocket of my loose jacket to search, as I thought, for the fruit that I usually brought home for her when I returned from the bazaar; but there was none there: and having replaced her in the arms of her mother, I hastened away that I might not be too late at my post. Your highness is aware that we do not march one following another, as most caravans do, but in one straight line abreast. The necessary arrangement occupies the whole day previous to the commencement of our journey, which takes place immediately after the sun goes down. We set off that evening, and after a march of two nights, arrived at Adjeroid, where we remained three days, to procure our supplies of water from Suez, and to refresh the animals, previous to our forced march over the desert of El Tyh.
The last day of our repose, as I was smoking my pipe, with my camels kneeling down around me, I perceived a herie coming from the direction of Cairo, at a very swift pace; it passed by me like a flash of lightning, but still I had sufficient time to recognise in its rider the Maribout who had prophesied evil if my camel was employed to carry the Koran on the pilgrimage of the year before.
 A swift dromedary.
The Maribout stopped his dromedary at the tent of the Emir Hadjy, who commanded the caravan. Anxious to know the reason of his following us, which I had a foreboding was connected with my camel, I hastened to the spot. I found him haranguing the Emir and the people who had surrounded him, denouncing woe and death to the whole caravan if my camel was not immediately destroyed, and another selected in his stead. Having for some time declaimed in such an energetic manner as to spread consternation throughout the camp, he turned his dromedary again to the west, and in a few minutes was out of sight.
The Emir was confused; murmurings and consultations were arising among the crowd. I was afraid that they would listen to the suggestions of the Maribout; and, alarmed for my camel, and the loss of the honour conferred upon him, I was guilty of a lie.
"O! Emir," said I, "listen not to that man who is mine enemy: he came to my house, he ate of my bread, and would have been guilty of the basest ingratitude by seducing the mother of my children; I drove him from my door, and thus would he revenge himself. So may it fare with me, and with the caravan, as I speak the truth."
I was believed; the injunctions of the Maribout were disregarded, and that night we proceeded on our march through the plains of El Tyh.
As your highness has never yet made a pilgrimage, you can have no conception of the country which we had to pass through: it was one vast region of sand, where the tracks of those who pass over it are obliterated by the wind,—a vast sea without water,—an expanse of desolation. We plunged into the desert; and as the enormous collection of animals, extending as far as the eye could reach, held their noiseless way, it seemed as if it were the passing by of shadows.
We met with no accident, notwithstanding the prophecies of the Maribout; and, after a fatiguing march of seven nights, arrived safely at Nakhel, where we replenished our exhausted water-skins. Those whom I knew joked with me, when we met at the wells, at the false prophecies of my enemy. We had now three days of severe fatigue to encounter before we arrived at the castle of Akaba, and we recommenced our painful journey.
It was on the morning of the second day, about an hour after we had pitched out tents, that the fatal prophecy of the Maribout, and the judgment of Allah upon me, for the lie which I had called on him to witness, was fulfilled.
A dark cloud appeared upon the horizon; it gradually increased, changing to a bright yellow; then rose and rose until it had covered one-half of the firmament, when it suddenly burst upon us in a hurricane which carried every thing before it, cutting off mountains of sand at the base, and hurling them upon our devoted heads. The splendid tent of the Emir which first submitted to the blast, passed close to me, flying along with the velocity of the herie, while every other was either levelled to the ground or carried up into the air, and whirled about in mad gyration.
Moving pillars of sand passed over us, overthrowing and suffocating man and beast; the camels thrust their muzzles into the ground, and, profiting by their instinct, we did the same, awaiting our fate in silence and trepidation. But the simoom had not yet poured upon us all its horrors: in a few minutes nothing was to be distinguished, all was darkness, horrible darkness, rendered more horrible by the ravings of dying men, the screams of women, and the mad career of horses and other animals, which breaking their cords, trod down thousands in their endeavours to escape from the overwhelming fury of the desert storm.
I had laid myself down by one of my camels, and thrusting my head under his side, awaited my death with all the horror of one who felt that the wrath of heaven was justly poured upon him. For an hour I remained in that position, and surely there can be no pains in hell greater than those which I suffered during that space of time. The burning sand forced itself into my garments, the pores of my skin were closed, I hardly ventured to breathe the hot blast which was offered as the only means of protracted existence. At last I fetched my respiration with greater freedom, and no more heard the howling of the blast. Gradually I lifted up my head, but my eyes had lost their power, I could distinguish nothing but a yellow glare. I imagined that I was blind, and what chance could there be for a man who was blind in the desert of El Tyh? Again I laid my head down, thought of my wife and children, and abandoning myself to despair, I wept bitterly.
The tears that I shed had a resuscitating effect upon my frame. I felt revived, and again lifted up my head—I could see! I prostrated myself in humble thanksgiving to Allah, and then rose upon my feet. Yes, I could see; but what a sight was presented to my eyes! I could have closed them for ever with thankfulness. The sky was again serene, and the boundless prospect uninterrupted as before; but the thousands who accompanied me, the splendid gathering of men and beasts, where were they? Where was the Emir Hadjy and his guards? where the mamelukes, the agas, the janissaries, and the holy sheiks? the sacred camel, the singers, and musicians? the varieties of nations and tribes who had joined the caravan? All perished!! Mountains of sand marked the spots where they had been entombed, with no other monuments save here and there part of the body of a man or beast not yet covered by the desert wave. All, all were gone, save one; and that one, that guilty one, was myself, who had been permitted to exist, that he might behold the awful mischief which had been created by his presumption and his crime.
For some minutes I contemplated the scene, careless and despairing; for I imagined that I had only been permitted to outlive the whole, that my death might be even more terrible. But my wife and children rushed to my memory, and I resolved for their sakes to save, if possible, a life which had no other ties to bind it to this earth. I tore off a piece of my turban, and cleansing the sand out of my bleeding nostrils, walked over the field of death.
Between the different hillocks I found several camels, which had not been covered. Perceiving a water-skin, I rushed to it, that I might quench my raging thirst; but the contents had been dried up—not a drop remained. I found another, but I had no better success. I then determined to open one of the bodies of the camels, and obtain the water which it might still have remaining in its stomach. This I effected, and having quenched my thirst—to which even the heated element which I poured down, seemed delicious—I hastened to open the remainder of the animals before putrefaction should take place, and collect the scanty supplies in the water-skins. I procured more than half a skin of water, and then returned to my own camel, which I had lain down beside of, during the simoom. I sat on the body of the animal, and reflected upon the best method of proceeding. I knew that I was but one day's journey from the springs; but how little chance had I of reaching them! I also knew the direction which I must take. The day had nearly closed, and I resolved to make the attempt.
As the sun disappeared, I rose, and with the skin of water on my back proceeded on my hopeless journey. I walked the whole of that night, and, by break of day, I imagined that I must have made about half the progress of a caravan; I had, therefore, still a day to pass in the desert, without any protection from the consuming heat, and then another night of toil. Although I had sufficient water, I had no food. When the sun rose, I sat down upon a hillock of burning sand, to be exposed to his rays for twelve everlasting hours. Before the hour of noon arrived, my brain became heated—I nearly lost my reason. My vision was imperfect, or rather I saw what did not exist. At one time lakes of water presented themselves to my eager eyes; and so certain was I of their existence, that I rose and staggered till I was exhausted in pursuit of them. At another, I beheld trees at a distance, and could see the acacias waving in the breeze; I hastened to throw myself under their shade, and arrived at some small shrub, which had thus been magnified.
So was I tormented and deceived during the whole of that dreadful day, which still haunts me in my dreams. At last the night closed in, and the stars as they lighted up, warned me that I might continue my journey. I drank plentifully from my water-skin, and recommenced my solitary way. I followed the track marked out by the bones of camels and horses of former caravans which had perished in the desert, and when the day dawned, I perceived the castle of Akaba at a short distance. Inspired with new life, I threw away the water-skin, redoubled my speed, and in half an hour had thrown myself down by the side of the fountain from which I had previously imbibed large draughts of the refreshing fluid. What happiness was then mine! How heavenly, to lay under the shade, breathing the cool air, listening to the warbling of the birds, and inhaling the perfume of the flowers, which luxuriated on that delightful spot! After an hour I stripped, bathed myself, and, taking another draught of water, fell into a sound sleep.
I awoke refreshed, but suffering under the cravings of hunger, which now assailed me. I had been three days without food; but hitherto I had not felt the want of it, as my more importunate thirst had overcome the sensation. Now that the greater evil had been removed, the lesser increased and became hourly more imperious. I walked out and scanned the horizon with the hopes of some caravan appearing in sight, but I watched in vain; and returned to the fountain. Two more days passed away, and no relief was at hand: my strength failed me; I felt that I was dying; and, as the fountain murmured, and the birds sang, and the cool breeze fanned my cheeks, I thought that it would have been better to have been swallowed up in the desert than to be tantalised by expiring in such a paradise. I laid myself down to die, for I could sit up no more; and as I turned round to take a last view of the running water, which had prolonged my existence, something hard pressed against my side. I thought it was a stone, and stretched out my hand to remove it, that I might be at ease in my last moments; but when I felt, there was no stone there; it was something in the pocket of my jacket. I put my hand in, unconscious what it could be; I pulled it out, and looking at it before I threw it away, found that it was a piece of hard dry bread. I thought that it had been sent to me from heaven, and it was as pure an offering as if it had come from thence, for it was the gift of innocence and affection—it was the piece of bread which my little darling girl had received for her breakfast, and which on my departure she had thrust into my pocket, when I imagined she had been searching for fruit. I crawled to the spring, moistened it, and devoured it, with tears of gratitude to heaven, mingled with the fond yearnings of a father's heart.
It saved my life; for the next day a small caravan arrived, which was bound to Cairo. The merchants treated me with great kindness, tied me on one of the camels, and I once more embraced my family, whom I had never thought to see again. Since that I have been poor, but contented—I deserved to lose all my property for my wickedness, and I submit with resignation to the will of Allah.
And now I trust that your highness will acknowledge that I was justified in making use of the expression, that "Happy was the man who could at all times command a crust of bread!"
* * * * *
"Very true," observed the pacha; "that's not a bad story: Mustapha, give him five pieces of gold, and allow him to depart."
The camel-driver quitted the divan, prostrating himself before the pacha, and overjoyed at the fortunate termination of what had threatened so much danger. The pacha was silent for a little while, during which he puffed his pipe—when he observed:—
"Allah Kebur, God is most powerful! That man has suffered much—and what has he to show for it?—a green turban—He is a Hadjy; I never thought that we should have heard so good a story about a 'crust of bread.' His description of the simoom parched up my entrails. What think you, Mustapha, cannot a true believer go to heaven, without a visit to the tomb of the prophet?"
"The holy Koran does not say otherwise, your highness, it inculcates that all who can, should do so, as the path will be rendered easier. Min Allah! God forbid! Has your highness ever had the time to go to Mecca, and is not your highness to go to heaven?"
"Very true, Mustapha, I never had time. In my youth I was busy shaving heads, after that, Wallah! I had enough to do, splitting them; and now am not I fully occupied in taking them off? Is it not so, Mustapha; are not these the words of truth?"
"Your highness is all wisdom. There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet; and when the latter said, that a visit to the holy shrine would be a passport to heaven, it was intended to employ those who were idle, not to embarrass true believers who work hard in the name of the Most High!"
"Min Allah! God forbid! the case is clear," replied the pacha, "why, if every body were to go to Mecca, what then, Mustapha?"
"Your highness—it is the opinion of your slave, if such were to take place, that all the fools would have left the country."
"Very true, Mustapha; but my mouth is parched up with the sand of that simoom—Sherbet I cannot drink, Rakee I must not, the Hakim has forbid it; what must it be then, Mustapha?"
"Hath the holy prophet forbidden wine to true believers in case of sickness; is not your highness sick; was the wine of Shiraz given by Allah to be thrown away? Allah Karim! God is most merciful; and the wine was sent that true believers might, in this world, have a foretaste of the pleasures awaiting them in the next."
"Mustapha," replied the pacha, taking his pipe out of his mouth, "by the beard of the holy prophet, your words are those of wisdom. Is a pacha to be fed on water-melons? Staffir Allah! do we believe the less, because we drink the wine? Slave, bring the pitcher. There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet."
"The words of the prophet, your highness, are plain: he says, 'True believers drink no wine,' which means, that his followers are not to go about the streets, drunken like the Giaours of Franguistan, who come here in their ships. Why is wine forbidden? because it makes men drunk. If then we are not drunk, we keep within the law. Why was the law made? Laws cannot be made for all; they must therefore be made for the control of the majority—Is it not so? Who are the majority? Why the poor. If laws were made for the rich and powerful, such laws would not suit the community at large. Mashallah! there are no laws for pachas, who have only to believe that there is one God and Mahomet is his prophet. Does your slave say well?"
"Excellently well, Mustapha," replied the pacha, lifting the pitcher to his mouth for a minute, and then passing it to Mustapha.
"Allah Karim! God is most merciful! your slave must drink; is it not the pleasure of your highness? As the wine poured down the throat of your highness, pervades through your whole frame to the extremities, so does your slave participate in your bounty. Do I not sit in your sublime presence? Can the sun shine without throwing out heat; therefore if your highness drink, must not I drink? Allah Acbar! who shall presume not to follow the steps of the pacha?" So saying, Mustapha lifted up the pitcher, and, for a minute, it was glued to his lips.
"I think that story should be written down," observed the pacha, after a pause of a few moments.
"I have already given directions, your highness, and the Greek slave is now employed about it, improving the language to render it more pleasing to the ears of your sublime highness, should it be your pleasure to have it read to you on some future day."
"That is right, Mustapha, if I recollect well, the Caliph Haroun used to command them to be written in letters of gold, and be deposited in the archives: we must do the same."
"The art no longer exists, your highness."
"Then we must be content with Indian-ink," replied the pacha, lifting the pitcher to his mouth, and emptying it.
"The sun will soon be down, Mustapha, and we must set off."
The pacha called for coffee, and in a few minutes, accompanied, as before, by Mustapha and the armed slaves, was prowling through the city in search of a story-teller. He was again fortunate, as after a walk of half an hour, he overheard two men loudly disputing at the door of a small wine-shop, frequented by the Greeks and Franks living in the city, and into which many a slave might be observed to glide, returning with a full pitcher for the evening's amusement of his Turkish master, who, as well as his betters, clandestinely violated the precepts of the Koran.
As usual he stopped to listen, when one of the disputants exclaimed—"I tell thee, Anselmo, it is the vilest composition that was ever drunk: and I think I ought to know, after having distilled the essence of an Ethiopian, a Jew, and a Turk."
"I care nothing for your distillations, Charis," replied the other, "I consider that I am a better judge than you: I was not a monk of the Dominican order for fifteen years, without having ascertained the merit of every description of wine."
"I should like to know what that fellow means by distilling people," observed the pacha, "and also why a Dominican monk should know wine better than others. Mustapha, I must see those two men."
The next morning the men were in attendance, and introduced; when the pacha requested an explanation from the first who had spoken. The man threw himself down before the pacha, with his head on the floor of the divan, and said,—"First promise me, your highness, by the sword of the prophet, that no harm shall result to me from complying with your request; and then I shall obey you with pleasure."
"Mashallah! what is the Kafir afraid of? What crimes hath he committed, that he would have his pardon granted before he tells his story?" said the pacha to Mustapha.
"No crime towards your state, your sublime highness; but when in another country, I was unfortunate," continued the man—"I cannot tell my story, unless your highness will condescend to give your promise."
"May it please your highness," observed Mustapha, "he asserts his crime to have been committed in another state. It may be heavy, and I suspect 'tis murder;—but although we watch the flowers which ornament our gardens, and would punish those who cull them, yet we care not who intrudes and robs our neighbour—and thus, it appears to me, your highness, that it is with states, and sufficient for the ruler of each to watch over the lives of his own subjects."
"Very true, Mustapha," rejoined the pacha; "besides, we might lose the story. Kafir, you have our promise, and may proceed."
The Greek slave (for such he was) then rose up, and narrated his story in the following words.
STORY OF THE GREEK SLAVE.
I am a Greek by birth; my parents were poor people residing at Smyrna. I was an only son, and brought up to my father's profession,—that of a cooper. When I was twenty years old, I had buried both my parents, and was left to shift for myself. I had been for some time in the employ of a Jewish wine-merchant, and I continued there for three years after my father's death, when a circumstance occurred which led to my subsequent prosperity and present degradation.
At the time that I am speaking of, I had, by strict diligence and sobriety, so pleased my employer, that I had risen to be his foreman; and although I still superintended and occasionally worked at the cooperage, I was intrusted with the drawing off and fining of the wines, to prepare them for market. There was an Ethiopian slave, who worked under my orders, a powerful, broad-shouldered, and most malignant wretch, whom my master found it almost impossible to manage; the bastinado, or any other punishment, he derided, and after the application only became more sullen and discontented than before. The fire that flashed from his eyes, upon any fault being found by me on account of his negligence, was so threatening, that I every day expected I should be murdered. I repeatedly requested my master to part with him; but the Ethiopian being a very powerful man, and able, when he chose, to move a pipe of wine without assistance, the avarice of the Jew would not permit him to accede to my repeated solicitations.
One morning I entered the cooperage, and found the Ethiopian fast asleep by the side of a cask which I had been wanting for some time, and expected to have found ready. Afraid to punish him myself, I brought my master to witness his conduct. The Jew, enraged at his idleness, struck him on the head with one of the staves. The Ethiopian sprang up in a rage, but on seeing his master with the stave in his hand, contented himself with muttering, "That he would not remain to be beaten in that manner," and re-applied himself to his labour. As soon as my master had left the cooperage, the Ethiopian vented his anger upon me for having informed against him, and seizing the stave, flew at me with the intention of beating out my brains. I stepped behind the cask; he followed me, and just as I had seized an adze to defend myself, he fell over the stool which lay in his way—he was springing up to renew the attack, when I struck him a blow with the adze which entered his skull, and laid him dead at my feet.
I was very much alarmed at what had occurred; for although I felt justified in self-defence, I was aware that my master would be very much annoyed at the loss of the slave, and as there were no witnesses, it would go hard with me when brought before the cadi. After some reflection I determined, as the slave had said "He would not remain to be beaten," that I would leave my master to suppose he had run away, and in the mean time conceal the body. But to effect this was difficult, as I could not take it out of the cooperage without being perceived. After some cogitation, I decided upon putting it into the cask, and heading it up. It required all my strength to lift the body in, but at last I succeeded. Having put in the head of the pipe, I hammered down the hoops and rolled it into the store, where I had been waiting to fill it with wine for the next year's demand. As soon as it was in its place, I pumped off the wine from the vat, and having filled up the cask and put in the bung, I felt as if a heavy load had been removed from my mind, as there was no chance of immediate discovery.
I had but just completed my task, and was sitting down on one of the settles, when my master came in, and inquired for the slave. I replied that he had left the cooperage, swearing that he would work no more. Afraid of losing him, the Jew hastened to give notice to the authorities, that he might be apprehended; but after some time, as nothing could be heard of the supposed runaway, it was imagined that he had drowned himself in a fit of sullenness, and no more was thought about him. In the meanwhile I continued to work there as before, and as I had the charge of every thing I had no doubt but that, some day or another, I should find means of quietly disposing of my incumbrance.
The next spring, I was busy pumping off from one cask into the other, according to our custom, when the aga of the janissaries came in. He was a great wine-bibber, and one of our best customers. As his dependents were all well-known, it was not his custom to send them for wine, but to come himself to the store and select a pipe. This was carried away in a litter by eight strong slaves, with the curtains drawn close, as if it had been a new purchase which he had added to his harem. My master showed him the pipes of wine prepared for that year's market, which were arranged in two rows; and I hardly need observe that the one containing the Ethiopian was not in the foremost. After tasting one or two which did not seem to please him, the aga observed, "Friend Issachar, thy tribe will always put off the worst goods first, if possible. Now I have an idea that there is better wine in the second tier, than in the one thou hast recommended. Let thy Greek put a spile into that cask," continued he, pointing to the very one in which I had headed up the black slave. As I made sure that as soon as he had tasted the contents he would spit them out, I did not hesitate to bore the cask and draw off the wine, which I handed to him. He tasted it and held it to the light—tasted it again and smacked his lips—then turning to my master, exclaimed, "Thou dog of a Jew! wouldst thou have palmed off upon me vile trash, when thou hadst in thy possession wine which might be sipped with the Houris in Paradise?"
The Jew appealed to me if the pipes of wine were not all of the same quality; and I confirmed his assertion.
"Taste it then," replied the aga, "and then taste the first which you recommended to me."
My master did so, and was evidently astonished. "It certainly has more body," replied he; "yet how that can be, I know not. Taste it, Charis."—I held the glass to my lips, but nothing could induce me to taste the contents. I contented myself with agreeing with my master (as I conscientiously could), "that it certainly had more body in it than the rest."
The aga was so pleased with the wine, that he tasted two or three more pipes of the back tier, hoping to find others of the same quality, probably intending to have laid in a large stock; but finding no other of the same flavour, he ordered his slaves to roll the one containing the body of the slave into the litter, and carried it to his own house.
* * * * *
"Stop a moment, thou lying kafir!" said the pacha, "dost thou really mean to say that the wine was better than the rest?"
"Why should I tell a lie to your sublime highness—am not I a worm that you may crush? As I informed you, I did not taste it, your highness; but after the aga had departed, my master expressed his surprise at the excellence of the wine, which he affirmed to be superior to any thing that he had ever tasted—and his sorrow that the aga had taken away the cask, which prevented him from ascertaining the cause. But one day I was narrating the circumstance to a Frank in this country, who expressed no surprise at the wine being improved. He had been a wine-merchant in England, and he informed me that it was the custom there to throw large pieces of raw beef into the wine to feed it; and that some particular wines were very much improved thereby."
"Allah Kebur! God is great!" cried the pacha—"Then it must be so—I have heard that the English are very fond of beef. Now go on with thy story."
* * * * *
Your highness cannot imagine the alarm which I felt when the cask was taken away by the aga's slaves. I gave myself up for a lost man, and resolved upon immediate flight from Smyrna. I calculated the time that it would take for the aga to drink the wine, and made my arrangements accordingly. I told my master that it was my intention to leave him, as I had an offer to go into business with a relation at Zante. My master, who could not well do without me, entreated me to stay; but I was positive. He then offered me a share of the business if I would remain, but I was not to be persuaded. Every rap at the door, I thought that the aga and his janissaries were coming for me; and I hastened my departure, which was fixed for the following day,—when in the evening my master came into the store with a paper in his hand.
"Charis," said he, "perhaps you have supposed that I only offered to make you a partner in my business to induce you to remain, and then to deceive you. To prove the contrary, here is a deed drawn up by which you are a partner, and entitled to one-third of the future profits. Look at it, you will find that it has been executed in due form before the cadi."
He had put the paper into my hand, and I was about to return it with a refusal, when a loud knocking at the door startled us both. It was a party of janissaries despatched by the aga, to bring us to him immediately. I knew well enough what it must be about, and I cursed my folly in having delayed so long; but the fact was, the wine proved so agreeable to the aga's palate that he had drunk it much faster than usual; besides which, the body of the slave took up at least a third of the cask, and diminished the contents in the same proportion. There was no appeal, and no escape. My master, who was ignorant of the cause, did not seem at all alarmed, but willingly accompanied the soldiers. I, on the contrary, was nearly dead from fear.
When we arrived, the aga burst out in the most violent exclamations against my master—"Thou rascal of a Jew!" said he, "dost thou think that thou art to impose upon a true believer, and sell him a pipe of wine which is not more than two-thirds full,—filling it up with trash of some sort or another. Tell me what it is that is so heavy in the cask now that it is empty?"
The Jew protested his ignorance, and appealed to me: I, of course, pretended the same. "Well, then," replied the aga, "we will soon see. Let thy Greek send for his tools, and the cask shall be opened in our presence; then perhaps thou wilt recognise thine own knavery."
Two of the janissaries were despatched for the tools, and when they arrived I was directed to take the head out of the cask. I now considered my death as certain—nothing buoyed me up but my observing that the resentment of the aga was levelled more against my master than against me; but still I thought that, when the cask was opened, the recognition of the black slave must immediately take place, and the evidence of my master would fix the murder upon me.
It was with a trembling hand that I obeyed the orders of the aga—the head of the pipe was taken out, and, to the horror of all present, the body was exposed; but instead of being black, it had turned white, from the time which it had been immersed. I rallied a little at this circumstance, as, so far, suspicion would be removed.
"Holy Abraham!" exclaimed my master, "what is that which I see!—A dead body, so help me God!—but I know nothing about it—do you, Charis?" I vowed that I did not, and called the Patriarch to witness the truth of my assertion. But while we were thus exclaiming, the aga's eyes were fixed upon my master with an indignant and deadly stare which spoke volumes; while the remainder of the people who were present, although they said nothing, seemed as if they were ready to tear him into pieces.
"Cursed unbeliever!" at last uttered the Turk, "is it thus that thou preparest the wine for the disciples of the Prophet?"
"Holy father Abraham!—I know no more than you do, aga, how that body came there; but I will change the cask with pleasure, and will send you another."
"Be it so," replied the aga; "my slave shall fetch it now." He gave directions accordingly, and the litter soon reappeared with another pipe of wine.
"It will be a heavy loss to a poor Jew—one pipe of good wine," observed my master, as it was rolled out of the litter; and he took up his hat with the intention to depart.
"Stay," cried the aga, "I do not mean to rob you of your wine."
"Oh, then, you will pay me for it," replied my master; "aga, you are a considerate man."
"Thou shalt see," retorted the aga, who gave directions to his slaves to draw off the wine in vessels. As soon as the pipe was empty, he desired me to take the head out; and when I had obeyed him, he ordered his janissaries to put my master in. In a minute he was gagged and bound, and tossed into the pipe; and I was directed to put in the head as before. I was very unwilling to comply; for I had no reason to complain of my master, and knew that he was punished for the fault of which I had been guilty. But it was a case of life or death,—and the days of self-devotion have long passed away in our country. Besides which, I had the deed in my pocket by which I was a partner in the business, and my master had no heirs,—so that I stood a chance to come into the whole of his property. Moreover——
* * * * *
"Never mind your reasons," observed the pacha, "you headed him up in the cask—go on."
"I did so, your highness; but although I dared not disobey, I assure you that it was with a sorrowful heart—the more so, as I did not know the fate which might be reserved for myself."
* * * * *
As soon as the head was in, and the hoops driven on, the aga desired his slaves to fill the cask up again with the wine; and thus did my poor master perish.
"Put in the bung, Greek," said the aga, in a stern voice.
I did so, and stood trembling before him.
"Well! what knowest thou of this transaction?"
I thought, as the aga had taken away the life of my master, that it would not hurt him if I took away a little from his character. I answered that I really knew nothing, but that, the other day, a black slave had disappeared in a very suspicious manner—that my master made very little inquiry after him—and I now strongly suspected that he must have suffered the same fate. I added, that my master had expressed himself very sorry that his highness had taken away the pipe of wine, as he would have reserved it.
"Cursed Jew!" replied the aga; "I don't doubt but he has murdered a dozen in the same manner."
"I am afraid so, sir," replied I, "and suspect that I was to have been his next victim; for when I talked of going away, he persuaded me to stay, and gave me this paper, by which I was to become his partner with one-third of the profits. I presume that I should not have enjoyed them long."
"Well, Greek," observed the aga, "this is fortunate for you; as, upon certain conditions, you may enter upon the whole property. One is, that you keep this pipe of wine with the rascally Jew in it, that I may have the pleasure occasionally to look at my revenge. You will also keep the pipe with the other body in it, that it may keep my anger alive. The last is, that you will supply me with what wine I may require, of the very best quality, without making any charge. Do you consent to these terms, or am I to consider you as a party to this infamous transaction?"
I hardly need observe that the terms were gladly accepted. Your highness must be aware that nobody thinks much about a Jew. When I was questioned as to his disappearance, I shrugged up my shoulders and told the inquirers, confidentially, that the aga of the janissaries had put him in prison, and that I was carrying on the business until his release.
In compliance with the wishes of the aga, the two casks containing the Jew and the Ethiopian slave, were placed together on settles higher than the rest, in the centre of the store. He would come in the evening, and rail at the cask containing my late master for hours at a time; during which he drank so much wine, that it was a very common circumstance for him to remain in the house until the next morning.
You must not suppose, your highness, that I neglected to avail myself (unknown to the aga) of the peculiar properties of the wine which those casks contained. I had them spiled underneath, and, constantly running off the wine from them, filled them up afresh. In a short time there was not a gallon in my possession which had not a dash in it of either the Ethiopian or the Jew; and my wine was so improved, that it had a most rapid sale, and I became rich.
All went on prosperously for three years; when the aga, who during that time had been my constant guest, and at least three times a-week had been intoxicated in my house, was ordered with his troops to join the Sultan's army. By keeping company with him, I had insensibly imbibed a taste for wine, although I never had been inebriated. The day that his troops marched, he stopped at my door, and dismounting from his Arabian, came in to take a farewell glass, desiring his men to go on, and that he would ride after them. One glass brought on another, and the time flew rapidly away. The evening closed in, and the aga was, as usual, in a state of intoxication;—he insisted upon going down to the store, to rail once more at the cask containing the body of the Jew. We had long been on the most friendly terms, and having this night drunk more than usual, I was incautious enough to say—"Prithee, aga, do not abuse my poor master any more, for he has been the making of my fortune. I will tell you a secret now that you are going away—there is not a drop of wine in my store that has not been flavoured either by him, or by the slave in the other cask. That is the reason why it is so much better than other people's."
"How!" exclaimed the aga, who was now almost incapable of speech. "Very well, rascal Greek! die you shall, like your master. Holy prophet! what a state for a Mussulman to go to Paradise in—impregnated with the essence of a cursed Jew!—Wretch! you shall die—you shall die."
He made a grasp at me, and missing his foot, fell on the ground in such a state of drunkenness as not to be able to get up again. I knew that when he became sober, he would not forget what had taken place, and that I should be sacrificed to his vengeance. The fear of death, and the wine which I had drunk, decided me how to act. I dragged him into an empty pipe, put the head in, hooped it up, and rolling it into the tier, filled it with wine. Thus did I revenge my poor master, and relieved myself from any further molestation on the part of the aga.
* * * * *
"What!" cried the pacha, in a rage, "you drowned a true believer—an aga of janissaries! Thou dog of a kafir—thou son of Shitan—and dare avow it! Call in the executioner."
"Mercy! your sublime highness, mercy!" cried the Greek—"Have I not your promise by the sword of the prophet? Besides, he was no true believer, or he would not have disobeyed the law. A good Mussulman will never touch a drop of wine."
"I promised to forgive, and did forgive, the murder of the black slave; but an aga of janissaries!—Is not that quite another thing?" appealed the pacha to Mustapha.
"Your highness is just in your indignation—the kafir deserves to be impaled. Yet there are two considerations which your slave ventures to submit to your sublime wisdom. The first is, that your highness gave an unconditional promise, and swore by the sword of the prophet."
"Staffir Allah! what care I for that! Had I sworn to a true believer, it were something."
"The other is, that the slave has not yet finished his story, which appears to be interesting."
"Wallah! that is true. Let him finish his story."
But the Greek slave remained with his face on the ground; and it was not until a renewal of the promise, sworn upon the holy standard made out of the nether garments of the prophet, by the pacha, who had recovered his temper, and was anxious for the conclusion of the story, that he could be induced to proceed, which he did as follows:—
* * * * *
As soon as I had bunged up the cask, I went down to the yard where the aga had left his horse, and having severely wounded the poor beast with his sword, I let it loose that it might gallop home. The noise of the horse's hoofs in the middle of the night, aroused his family, and when they discovered that it was wounded and without its rider, they imagined that the aga had been attacked and murdered by banditti when he had followed his troop. They sent to me to ask at what time he had left my house; I replied, an hour after dark—that he was very much intoxicated at the time—and had left his sabre, which I returned. They had no suspicions of the real facts, and it was believed that he had perished on the road.
I was now rid of my dangerous acquaintance, and although he certainly had drunk a great quantity of my wine, yet I recovered the value of it with interest, from the flavour which I obtained from his body and which I imparted to the rest of my stock. I raised him up alongside of the two other casks; and my trade was more profitable and my wines in greater repute than ever.
But one day the cadi, who had heard my wine extolled, came privately to my house; I bowed to the ground at the honour conferred, for I had long wished to have him as a customer. I drew some of my best—"This, honourable sir," said I, presenting the glass, "is what I call my aga wine: the late aga was so fond of it, he used to order a whole cask at once to his house, and had it taken there in a litter."
"A good plan," replied the cadi, "much better than sending a slave with a pitcher, which gives occasion for remarks: I will do the same; but, first, let me taste all you have."
He tasted several casks, but none pleased him so much as the first which I had recommended. At last he cast his eyes upon the three casks raised above the others.
"And what are those?" inquired he.
"Empty casks, sir," replied I; but he had his stick in his hand, and he struck one.
"Greek, thou tellest me these casks are empty, but they do not sound so; I suspect that thou hast better wine than I have tasted: draw me off from these immediately."
I was obliged to comply—he tasted them—vowed that the wine was exquisite, and that he would purchase the whole. I stated to him that the wine in those casks was used for flavouring the rest; and that the price was enormous, hoping that he would not pay it. He inquired how much—I asked him four times the price of the other wines.
"Agreed," said the cadi; "it is dear—but one cannot have good wine without paying for it:—it is a bargain."
I was very much alarmed; and stated that I could not part with those casks, as I should not be able to carry on my business with reputation, if I lost the means of flavouring my wines, but all in vain; he said that I had asked a price and he had agreed to give it. Ordering his slaves to bring a litter, he would not leave the store until the whole of the casks were carried away, and thus did I lose my Ethiopian, my Jew, and my aga.
As I knew that the secret would soon be discovered, the very next day I prepared for my departure. I received my money from the cadi, to whom I stated my intention to leave, as he had obliged me to sell him those wines, and I had no longer hopes of carrying on my business with success. I again begged him to allow me to have them back, offering him three pipes of wine as a present if he would consent, but it was of no use. I chartered a vessel, which I loaded with the rest of my stock; and, taking all my money with me, made sail for Corfu, before any discovery had taken place. But we encountered a heavy gale of wind, which, after a fortnight (during which we attempted in vain to make head against it), forced us back to Smyrna. When the weather moderated, I directed the captain to take the vessel into the outer roadstead that I might sail as soon as possible. We had not dropped anchor again more than five minutes when I perceived a boat pulling off from the shore in which was the cadi and the officers of justice.
Convinced that I was discovered, I was at a loss how to proceed, when the idea occurred to me that I might conceal my own body in a cask, as I had before so well concealed those of others.
I called the captain down into the cabin, and telling him that I had reason to suspect that the cadi would take my life, offered him a large part of the cargo if he would assist me.
The captain who, unfortunately for me, was a Greek, consented. We went down into the hold, started the wine out of one of the pipes, and having taken out the head, I crawled in, and was hooped up.
The cadi came on board immediately afterwards and inquired for me. The captain stated that I had fallen overboard in the gale, and that he had in consequence returned, the vessel not being consigned to any house at Corfu.
"Has then the accursed villain escaped my vengeance!" exclaimed the cadi; "the murderer, that fines his wines with the bodies of his fellow-creatures: but you may deceive me, Greek, we will examine the vessel."
The officers who accompanied the cadi proceeded carefully to search every part of the ship. Not being able to discover me, the Greek captain was believed; and, after a thousand imprecations upon my soul, the cadi and his people departed.
I now breathed more freely, notwithstanding I was nearly intoxicated with the lees of the wine which impregnated the wood of the cask, and I was anxious to be set at liberty; but the treacherous captain had no such intention, and never came near me. At night he cut his cable and made sail, and I overheard a conversation between two of the men, which made known to me his intentions: these were to throw me overboard on his passage, and take possession of my property. I cried out to them from the bung-hole: I screamed for mercy, but in vain. One of them answered, that, as I had murdered others, and put them into casks, I should now be treated in the same manner.
I could not but mentally acknowledge the justice of my punishment, and resigned myself to my fate; all that I wished was to be thrown over at once and released from my misery. The momentary anticipation of death appeared to be so much worse than the reality. But it was ordered otherwise: a gale of wind blew up with such force, that the captain and crew had enough to do to look after the vessel, and, either I was forgotten or my doom was postponed until a more seasonable opportunity.
On the third day I heard the sailors observe that, with such a wretch as I was remaining on board, the vessel must inevitably be lost. The hatches were then opened: I was hoisted up and cast into the raging sea. The bung of the cask was out, but by stuffing my handkerchief in, when the hole was under water, I prevented the cask from filling; and when it was uppermost, I removed it for a moment to obtain fresh air. I was dreadfully bruised by the constant rolling, in a heavy sea, and completely worn out with fatigue and pain; I had made up my mind to let the water in and be rid of my life, when I was tossed over and over with such dreadful rapidity as prevented my taking the precaution of keeping out the water. After three successive rolls of the same kind, I found that the cask, which had been in the surf, had struck on the beach. In a moment after, I heard voices, and people came up to the cask and rolled me along. I would not speak, lest they should be frightened and allow me to remain on the beach, where I might again be tossed about by the waves; but as soon as they stopped, I called in a faint voice from the bung-hole, begging them for mercy's sake to let me out.
At first they appeared alarmed; but, on my repeating my request, and stating that I was the owner of the ship which was off the land, and the captain and crew had mutinied and tossed me overboard, they brought some tools and set me at liberty.
The first sight that met my eyes after I was released, was my vessel lying a wreck; each wave that hurled her further on the beach, breaking her more and more to pieces. She was already divided amid-ships, and the white foaming surf was covered with pipes of wine, which, as fast as they were cast on shore, were rolled up by the same people who had released me. I was so worn out, that I fainted where I lay. When I came to, I found myself in a cave upon a bundle of capotes, and perceived a party of forty or fifty men, who were sitting by a large fire, and emptying with great rapidity one of my pipes of wine.
As soon as they observed that I was coming to my senses, they poured some wine down my throat, which restored me. I was then desired by one of them, who seemed to be the chief, to approach.
"The men who have been saved from the wreck," said he, "have told me strange stories of your enormous crimes—now, sit down, and tell me the truth—if I believe you, you shall have justice—I am cadi here—if you wish to know where you are, it is upon the island of Ischia—if you wish to know in what company, it is in the society of those who by illiberal people are called pirates: now tell the truth."
I thought that with pirates my story would be received better than with other people, and I therefore narrated my history to them, in the same words that I now have to your highness. When I had finished, the captain of the gang observed:—
"Well, then, as you acknowledge to have killed a slave, to have assisted at the death of a Jew, and to have drowned an aga, you certainly deserve death; but, on consideration of the excellence of the wine, and the secret which you have imparted to us, I shall commute your sentence. As for the captain and the remainder of the crew, they have been guilty of treachery and piracy on the high seas—a most heinous offence, which deserves instant death; but as it is by their means that we have been put in possession of the wine, I shall be lenient. I therefore sentence you all to hard labour for life. You shall be sold as slaves in Cairo, and we will pocket the money and drink your wine."
The pirates loudly applauded the justice of a decision by which they benefited, and all appeal on our parts was useless. When the weather became more settled, we were put on board one of their small xebeques, and on our arrival at this port were exposed for sale and purchased.
Such, pacha, is the history which induced me to make use of the expressions which you wished to be explained; and I hope you will allow that I have been more unfortunate than guilty, as on every occasion in which I took away the life of another, I had only to choose between that and my own.
* * * * *
"Well, it is rather a curious story," observed the pacha, "but still, if it were not for my promise, I certainly would have your head off for drowning the aga—I consider it excessively impertinent in an unbelieving Greek to suppose that his life is of the same value as that of an aga of janissaries, and follower of the prophet; but, however, my promise was given, and you may depart."
"The wisdom of your highness is brighter than the stars of heaven," observed Mustapha. "Shall the slave be honoured with your bounty?"
"Mashallah! bounty! I've given him his life, and, as he considers it of more value than an aga's, I think 'tis a very handsome present. Drown an aga, indeed!" continued the pacha, rising, "but it certainly was a very curious story. Let it be written down, Mustapha. We'll hear the other man to-morrow."
"Mustapha," said the pacha the next day, when they had closed the hall of audience, "have you the other Giaour in readiness?"
"Bashem ustun! Upon my head be it, your highness. The infidel dog waits but the command to crawl into your sublime presence."
"Let him approach, that our ears may be gratified. Barek Allah! Praise be to God. There are others who can obtain stories besides the Caliph Haroun."
The slave was ordered into the pacha's presence. He was a dark man with handsome features, and he walked in with a haughty carriage, which neither his condition nor tattered garments could disguise. When within a few feet of the carpet of state he bowed and folded his arms in silence. "I wish to know upon what grounds you asserted that you were so good a judge of wine the other evening, when you were quarrelling with the Greek slave."
"I stated my reason at the time, your highness, which was, because I had been for many years a monk of the Dominican order."
"I recollect that you said so. What trade is that, Mustapha?" inquired the pacha.
"If your slave is not mistaken, a good trade every where. The infidel means that he was a mollah or dervish among the followers of Isauri."
 Jesus Christ.
"May they and their fathers' graves be eternally defiled," cried the pacha. "Do not they drink wine and eat pork? Have you nothing more to say?" inquired the pacha.
"My life has been one of interest," replied the slave, "and if it will please your highness, I will narrate my history."
"It is our condescension. Sit down and proceed."
STORY OF THE MONK.
May it please your highness, I am a Spaniard by birth, and, a native of Seville; but whether my father was a grandee, or of a more humble extraction, I cannot positively assert. All that I can establish is, that when reason dawned, I found myself in the asylum instituted by government, in that city, for those unfortunate beings who are brought up upon black bread and oil, because their unnatural parents either do not choose to incur the expense of their maintenance, or having, in the first instance, allowed unlawful love to conquer shame, end by permitting shame to overcome maternal love.
It is the custom, at a certain age, to put these children out to different trades and callings; and those who show precocity of talent are often received into the bosom of the church.
Gifted by nature with a very fine voice and correct ear for music, I was selected to be brought up as a chorister in a Dominican convent of great reputation. At the age of ten years, I was placed under the charge of the leader of the choir. Under his directions, I was fully occupied receiving my lessons in singing, or at other times performing the junior offices of the church, such as carrying the frankincense or large wax tapers in the processions. As a child my voice was much admired; and after the service was over, I often received presents of sweetmeats from the ladies, who brought them in their pockets for the little Anselmo. As I grew up, I became a remarkable proficient in music; at the age of twenty, I possessed a fine counter-tenor; and flattered by the solicitations of the superior of the convent and other dignitaries of the church, I consented to take the vows, and became a member of the fraternity.
Although there was no want of liberty in our convent, I was permitted even more than the rest of the monks. I gave lessons in music and singing, and a portion of my earnings were placed in the superior's hands for the benefit of the fraternity. Independent of this, my reputation was spread all over Seville; and hundreds used to attend the mass performed in our church, that they might hear the voice of brother Anselmo. I was therefore considered as a valuable property, and the convent would have suffered a great deal by my quitting it. Although I could not be released from my vows, still I could by application have been transferred to Madrid; and the superior, aware of this circumstance, allowed me every indulgence, with the hopes of my being persuaded to remain. The money which I retained for my own exigencies enabled me to make friends with the porter, and I obtained egress or ingress at any hour. I was a proficient on the guitar; and incongruous as it may appear with my monastic vows, I often hastened from the service at vespers to perform in a serenade to some fair senora, whose inamorato required the powers of my voice to soften her to his wishes.
My sedillas and canzonettas were much admired; and eventually no serenade was considered as effective, without the assistance of the counter-tenor of Anselmo. I hardly need observe that it was very profitable; and that I had the means of supplying myself with luxuries which the rules of our order did not admit. I soon became irregular and debauched; often sitting up whole nights with the young cavaliers, drinking and singing amorous songs for their amusement. Still, however, my conduct was not known, or was overlooked for the reasons which I have stated before.
When once a man indulges to excess in wine, he is assailed by, and becomes an easy prey to every other vice. This error soon led me into others; and, regardless of my monastic vows, I often felt more inclined to serenade upon my own account than on that of my employers. I had the advantage of a very handsome face, but it was disguised by the shaven crown and the unbecoming manner of cutting the hair; the coarse and unwieldly monastic dress belonging to our order hid the symmetry of my limbs, which, might have otherwise attracted notice on the Prado. I soon perceived that, although my singing was admired by the other sex, their admiration went no further. They seemed to consider that in every other point I was, as I ought to have been, dead to the world.