“Speak,” replied the pacha.
“Then, pacha, beware of that man who sits beside you; for there is that in his face which tells me that he will raise himself upon your fall. Pacha, beware!”
“Hag of Jehanum!” exclaimed Mustapha, rising from his seat.
The old woman held up her finger, and walked out of the divan.
The pacha looked suspiciously at Mustapha, for he was of a suspicious nature; and Mustapha looked anything but innocent.
“Doth my lord give ear to a lying tongue of an old woman?” said Mustapha, prostrating himself. “Hath not your slave proved himself faithful? Am not I as dust in thy presence? Take my life, O pacha! but doubt not the fidelity of thy slave.”
The pacha seemed pacified. “What is all this but bosh, nothing?” said he, rising and quitting the apartment.
“Bosh!” muttered Mustapha. “The cursed old hag! I know better—there is no time to lose—I must be quick. When will that renegade return from Stamboul? It is time.” And Mustapha, with a gloomy countenance, quitted the divan.
Although the pacha, with the usual diplomacy of a Turk, had, so far from expressing his displeasure against Mustapha, treated him with more than usual urbanity, he had not forgotten the advice of the old woman. Suspicion once raised was not to be allayed, and he had consulted with his favourite wife, Fatima. A woman is a good adviser in cases of this description. The only danger which could threaten the pacha was from the imperial court at Stamboul; for the troops were devoted to him, and the people of the country had no very serious cause of complaint. By the advice of the favourite, the pacha sent as a present to Mustapha, a young and handsome Greek girl, but she was a spy in the service of the favourite, and had been informed that the vizier had been doomed. She was to discover, if she could, whether there was any intercourse between the renegade, who commanded the fleet, and the vizier, as from that quarter alone danger could be anticipated. The Greek had not been a week in the harem of Mustapha, before she ascertained more than was sufficient. The fleet had been sent to Constantinople, with presents to the sultan from the pacha, and its return was hourly expected.
It was on the afternoon of this eventful day that the fleet hove in sight, and lay becalmed a few miles in the offing. Mustapha hastened to report it to the pacha, as he sat in his divan, hearing complaints, and giving judgment, although not justice. Now when the pacha heard that the fleet had returned, his heart misgave him, and the more so, as Mustapha was more obsequious and fawning than ever. He retired for a short time from the divan, and hastened to his favourite, Fatima.