When I was grown up, my father wanted me to enrol myself in the corps of janissaries, and become a lion-killer like himself; I remonstrated, but in vain; he applied, and I was accepted, and received the mark on my arm, which constituted me a janissary. I put on the dress, swaggered and bullied with many other young men of my acquaintance, who were all ready, as they swore, to eat their enemies alive, and who curled their mustachios to prove the truth of what they said. We were despatched to quell a rebellious pacha—we bore down upon his troops with a shout, enough to frighten the devil, but the devil a bit were they frightened, they stood their ground; and as they would not run, we did, leaving those who were not so wise, to be cut to pieces. After this, when any of my companions talked of their bravery, or my father declared that he should be soon promoted to the rank of a Spahi, and that I was a lion’s whelp, I very much doubted the fact.
The pacha held out much longer than was at first anticipated; indeed, so long as to cause no little degree of anxiety in the capital. More troops were despatched to subdue him; and success not attending our efforts, the vizier, according to the custom, was under the disagreeable necessity of parting with his head, which was demanded because we turned tail. Indeed, it was to oblige us, that the sultan consented to deprive himself of the services of a very able man; for we surrounded the palace, and insisted that it was all his fault, but, considering our behaviour in the field of battle, your highness must admit that there was reason to doubt the fact.
We were again despatched against this rebellious pacha, who sat upon the parapets of his stronghold, paying down thirty sequins for the head of every janissary brought to him by his own troops, and I am afraid a great deal of money was spent in that way. We fell into an ambuscade, and one half of the corps to which my father belonged were cut to pieces, before we could receive any assistance. At last the enemy retired. I looked for my father, and found him expiring; as before, he had received a wound on the wrong side, a spear having transfixed him between the shoulders. “Tell how I died like a brave man,” said he, “and tell your mother that I am gone to Paradise.” From an intimate knowledge of my honoured father’s character, in the qualities of thief, liar, and coward, although I promised to deliver the message, I very much doubted these facts.
That your highness may understand how it was that I happened to be left alone, and alive on the field of battle, I must inform you, that I inherited a considerable portion of my father’s courageous temper, and not much liking the snapping of the pistols in my face, I had thrown myself down on the ground, and had remained there very quietly, preferring to be trampled on, rather than interfere with what was going on above.
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