The consequence was, that his cruises were more successful than ever, and Mustapha, who was not content with pillaging the pacha’s subjects on dry land, was amassing a large fortune at their expense by his maritime speculations.
Occasionally, bales or packages would be recognised when landed as having the identical marks and numbers of those which had been shipped from the quay but a fortnight before; but the renegade could always give a satisfactory explanation to the vizier; and after a Jew, who could not bear the idea of parting with his property without remonstrance, had been impaled, people shrugged up their shoulders and said nothing.
Now it occurred to Mustapha, that Selim might be able to assist his views. He talked fast and loud, vaunted his own exploits, curled his whiskers as he swore to the most improbable assertions, and had become a general nuisance and terror since he had obtained the vizier’s protection.
Mustapha sent for him, and, as a preliminary question, inquired if ever he had read the Arabian Nights.
“Yes, vizier,” replied the renegade; “many years before I turned Turk.”
“Do you recollect the voyages of Sindbad the Sailor?”
“To be sure I do; he is the only man that could ever hold a candle to me in lying.”
“Well, then, his highness the pacha delights in such stories; and it is my wish that you prepare to recount your own voyages, as Sindbad has done before you.”
“But what am I to get for it?”
“My good-will and protection; besides which, his highness, if pleased, will not fail to order you a handsome present.”
“Well,” replied Selim, “any man who can produce gold in this world will always be able to change it for base metal. I can coin lies in my mint faster than he can coin sequins in his; and since you wish it, and say that it will be profitable, why—I am very much at his service.”
“Then, Selim, observe my directions, for every thing must appear accidental.”
In pursuance to the orders received from Mustapha, the renegade remained that evening at the corner of a certain street, through which Mustapha took care that the pacha should pass in his disguise. When he perceived their approach, the renegade exclaimed. “Allah, Allah! when is the happy time to come, promised in my seventh and last voyage?”
“Who are you, and why do you call upon Heaven for happy times?” inquired the pacha.
“I am Huckaback the Sailor,” replied the renegade, “who, after a life of danger and disaster, am anxiously awaiting the fulfilment of a promise from the Most High.”
“I must see this man to-morrow,” observed the pacha:—“Mustapha, as you value your life, see that he attends.”
The vizier bowed, and the pacha returned to the palace without further adventure.
The next day, as soon as the business of the divan had closed, the renegade was ordered in. Prostrating himself before the pacha, he then rose, and, folding his arms over his breast, awaited his commands in silence.