Mustapha gave directions, in obedience to the wish of the pacha. In the evening, as soon as they had lighted their pipes, the man was ordered in, and in consideration of his swelled feet, was permitted to sit down, that he might be more at ease when he narrated his story, which was as follows.
Most sublime pacha, allow me first to observe, that, although I have latterly adhered to my own opinions, I am not so intolerant as not to permit the same licence to others: I do not mean to say that there are not such things as facts in this world, nor to find fault with those who believe in them. I am told that there are also such things as flying dragons, griffins, and other wondrous animals, but surely it is quite sufficient for me, or any one else, to believe that these animals exist, when it may have been our fortune to see them; in the same manner, I am willing to believe in a fact, when it is cleared from the mists of doubt; but up to the present, I can safely say, that I seldom have fallen in with a fact, unaccompanied by doubts, and every year adds to my belief, that there are few genuine facts in existence. So interwoven in my frame is doubt, that I sometimes am unwilling to admit, as a fact, that I exist. I believe it to be the case, but I feel that I have no right to assert it, until I know what death is, and may from thence draw an inference, which may lead me to a just conclusion.
My name is Hudusi. Of my parents I can say little. My father asserted that he was the bravest janissary in the sultan’s employ, and had greatly distinguished himself. He was always talking of Rustam, as being a fool compared to him; of the number of battles he had fought, and of the wounds which he had received in leading his corps on all desperate occasions; but as my father often bathed before me, and the only wound I could ever perceive was one in his rear, when he spoke of his bravery, I very much doubted the fact.
My mother fondled and made much of me, declared that I was the image of my father, a sweet pledge of their affections, a blessing sent by Heaven upon their marriage; but, as my father’s nose was aquiline, and mine is a snub, or aquiline reversed; his mouth large, and mine small; his eyes red and ferrety, and mine projecting; and, moreover, as she was a very handsome woman, and used to pay frequent visits to the cave of a sainted man in high repute, of whom I was the image, when she talked of the janissary’s paternity, I very much doubted the fact.
An old mollah taught me to read and write and repeat the verses of the Koran—and I was as much advanced as any boy under his charge—but he disliked me very much for reasons which I never could understand, and was eternally giving me the slipper. He declared that I was a reprobate, an unbeliever, a son of Jehanum, who would be impaled before I was much older; but here I am, without a stake through my body at the age of forty-five; and your highness must acknowledge that when he railed all this in my ears, I was justified in very much doubting the fact.