“By the sword of the prophet! there is one fact—you were a very great coward,” observed the pacha.
“Among my other doubts, your highness, I certainly have some doubts as to my bravery.”
“By the beard of the pacha, I have no doubts on the subject,” observed Mustapha.
“Without attempting to defend my courage, may I observe to your highness, that it was a matter of perfect indifference to me whether the sultan or the pacha was victorious; and I did not much admire hard blows, without having an opportunity of putting a few sequins in my pocket. I never knew of any man, however brave he might be, who fought for love of fighting, or amusement; we all are trying in this world to get money; and that is, I believe, the secret spring of all our actions.”
“Is that true, Mustapha?” inquired the pacha.
“May it please your sublime highness, if not the truth, it is not very far from it. Proceed, Hudusi.”
* * * * *
The ideas which I have ventured to express before your sublime highness, were running in my mind, as I sat down among the dead and dying, and I thought how much better off were the pacha’s soldiers than those of our sublime sultan, who had nothing but hard blows, while the pacha’s soldiers received thirty sequins for the head of everyone of our corps of janissaries; and one idea breeding another, I reflected that it would be very prudent, now that the pacha appeared to be gaining the advantage, to be on the right side. Having made up my mind upon this point, it then occurred to me, that I might as well get a few sequins by the exchange, and make my appearance before the pacha, with one or two of the heads of the janissaries, who were lying close to me. I therefore divested myself of whatever might give the idea of my belonging to the corps, took off the heads and rifled the pockets of three janissaries, and was about to depart, when I thought of my honoured father, and turned back to take a last farewell. It was cruel to part with a parent, and I could not make up my mind to part with him altogether, so I added his head, and the contents of his sash, to those of the other three, and smearing my face and person with blood, with my scimitar in my hand and the four heads tied up in a bundle, made my way for the pacha’s stronghold; but the skirmishing was still going on outside of the walls, and I narrowly escaped a corps of janissaries, who would have recognised me. As it was, two of them followed me as I made for the gate of the fortress; and, encumbered as I was, I was forced to turn at bay. No man fights better than, and even a man who otherwise would not fight at all, will fight well, when he can’t help it. I never was so brave in my life. I cut down one, and the other ran away, and this in the presence of the pacha, who was seated on the embrasure at the top of the wall; and thus I gained my entrance into the fort. I hastened to the pacha’s presence, and laid at his feet the four heads. The pacha was so pleased at my extraordinary valour, that he threw me a purse of five hundred pieces of gold, and ordered me to be promoted, asking me to what division of his troops I belonged. I replied, that I was a volunteer. I was made an officer, and thus did I find myself a rich man and a man of consequence by merely changing sides.