The newly enslaved are taken before the Pasha for him to make his selections before the rest are sold at auction.

The Galley Slave - Chapter 8: The Penjic or the Pasha's Portion
by Chrisus
Series: The Galley Slave
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The Penjic or the Pasha's Portion

"Christian Stealing".............. Which doe much offend the Christians, in taking their ships, Tantanes and Satties and other small vessels, making all Christians that they take slaves. - 16th Century quotation.

Brutally, our overseers whip us into a position of respect before the Pasha. As the whips fall across our shoulders we drop to our knees and place our foreheads against the cobblestones of the courtyard. Humiliated, I am acutely aware that my naked arse is elevated above my head and that it is on display to the watching crowd of onlookers.

The crowd maintains a respectful silence as the Pasha settles his corpulent frame into the comfortable nest of his cushions. His attendant slaves, ever vigilant to his needs, cluster around him and two fall to their knees - one on either side of him. One slave holds a silver pitcher of cool drink and the other a matching silver platter of fresh melon slices and honeyed figs. The slaves are well- trained to anticipate their Master's slightest wish and move quickly to meet them. Of course, failure on their part to do so would see them severely punished.

The hushed crowd wait expectantly on the Pasha and I wonder what is to happen next; I don't know that they wait on his command for his penjic to begin.


The Pasha is all too aware of his exalted position as the representative of the Sublime Porte in faraway Constantinople; he is the local embodiment of the Sultan of Sultans, the Padishah of the White Sea in this far flung corner of the Ottoman Empire. To hasten proceedings is to lessen the majesty of his royal master whose subjects - even here in Tripoli - must at all times wait on the sultan's or, in his absence, then his representative's pleasure. And so the crowd must wait on him.

Once settled, his slaves begin to fan him and as always he is enchanted by the erotic display of the movement in their naked, muscular bodies. Really the fans do little to cool him but they do protect him from the flies and other annoying insects that are so prevalent at this time of the year. And the heavy, richly brocaded awning protects him from the sun's merciless rays. So really, these slaves are more decorative than useful but they do add an air of opulence to the proceedings. And to the Pasha, appearances are most important.

Impatiently, he waits for his slaves to serve him a cool sherbet drink and to offer him a sweet, honeyed fig. The slaves are taking too long and he is angered by their slow response to his needs. Darkly, he determines this 'slowness' will be punished; the miserable wretches will be severely caned on the soles of their feet with the bastinado upon his return to his palace. But why stop with just the offending slaves. He'll have all his attendant slaves punished. No matter that some of them haven't offended; they'll be punished for no other reason than that he wishes it. It's true that they will hobble painfully on their blistered feet for several days but their magnificent bodies will be left unmarked.

The Pasha looks out over the silent crowd waiting on his command. He enjoys this exercise of his power over them. All who come into his presence are subject to it and as irksome as they find it to be, none would be foolhardy enough to complain. For all the citizens of Tripoli, both noble and commoner, free man and slave know of his fearsome reputation for cruelty.

With infuriating slowness, he strokes the greying beard that frames the roundness of his face. His cruel eyes squint out over the waiting crowd to the three rows of the kneeling slaves. Their naked bodies glint in the bright morning sunlight and are highlighted by their coating of body oil and sweat. He tries to focus on them but with their heads pressed to the ground and the arses elevated they have a uniformity of appearance which makes it difficult for him to distinguish one from the other. He knows there are forty-eight Nasrani dogs waiting for him to make his selection of one in every eight from among their number.

He gazes with disdain upon the cringing slaves and decides he'll leave them in this position for a few moments longer. It is fitting that these infidels debase themselves before him and through him the sultan in faraway Constantinople.

Soon these dogs will experience the humiliation of being sold into slavery. But before that, he is to make his selection. Not that he'll do so personally; his exalted rank prevents him from moving among the common masses and it would be unbecoming of him to sully his dignity by personally selecting the slaves due to him. He has appointed others to select six slaves on his behalf.

Of course, he has instructed them as to what type of slaves he wants. He wants strong lusty, fellows to work as beylik slaves on the public works for which he is responsible. There are always repairs being carried out on the sea walls that protect the inner harbour or on the city's fortifications. And the stone quarries demand a heavy tribute in slaves. They have an insatiable appetite and there never seem to be enough newly captured Christian prisoners to meet their requirements.

He leans forward to get a better view of these new slaves. Last evening, his "Registrar of Slaves" had spoken to him about a comely, young Christian - possibly a cabin boy on one of the captured Christian vessels - who had attracted his attention. Foolishly, the registrar had tried to influence him into making a present of the boy to him; calling on some supposed favour that the registrar felt was owing to him. The registrar had presumed too much and he'd been reprimanded for his audacity.

But the registrar's fulsome praise of the boy had aroused his interest. There is always room for another garzon in his male harem. He has instructed his agents to seek out the boy and to select him as one of the six penjic slaves.

The registrar had mentioned that the young slave has a lithesome, blemish free body, thick, curly locks the colour of sun ripened wheat and intensely blue eyes. The Pasha listened with interest as the registrar sang the young slave's praises and his own appetite had been whetted.

The Pasha has a penchant for young, fair skinned, blond slaves and has too few in his collection. He has decided he will add this slave to his household.

But it is hard to distinguish him from among the kneeling slaves. He is anxious to see more of the slave and he signals for the slaves to brought to their feet.


Suddenly the whips fall once more on our unprotected backs and we are ordered to our feet. Confusion reigns briefly as we are made to stand erect with our hands upon our heads and facing towards the dais from which the Pasha and his retinue can view us. The silence is now broken by the excited hubbub of the watching crowd.

Three men approach us. They are dressed in long, black garments but their appearance isn't that of our captors. In my ignorance, I don't know what their ethnic origins are. But if I did, then I would know them as members of one of the many races that make up the human melting-pot of the Ottoman Empire. These men are in fact slave-dealers and it is they who will sell us later in the badestan. But first, they have been charged by the Pasha to choose six of us as his portion. And they are well suited to this task. They are experts in the assessing and the peddling of human flesh.

Beginning at the end of the first row - of which Joachim and I are a part - they slowly walk it length pausing occasionally to discuss one of our number. For the most part they pass by a slave obviously judging him as unsuitable for the Pasha's requirements. But on several occasions, they order a slave to step forward and assess him. All three examine the slave and then discuss him animatedly in their incomprehensible speech. If all three agree on the slave's suitability then they make a mark upon his chest and he is led away and placed under the charge of the African overseers.

About halfway along our line they pause before a young lad who'd been the captain's cabin boy on my vessel. The terrified boy is ordered to step forward and is subjected to the most degrading of inspections. One after the other, all three run their hands over the young slave's nakedness, poking, prodding and pounding his quivering body testing for its hardness and squeezing his still developing muscles to determine their strength. This is humiliating enough but the unfortunate lad is subjected to yet more shameful acts. His balls are fondled and stretched away from his body and his cock stroked to erection. Finally he is made to turn his back to his tormentors and to bend at the waist. Eagerly, his buttocks are parted and one after the other all three dealers insert fingers into his anus to test for soundness and tightness. Something amuses the three and they talk excitedly among themselves and laugh loudly.

I look to the dais and see that the Pasha has stirred himself and is leaning forward to watch as they examine the boy. If I was closer to the dais, I would see that the Pasha is unconsciously and lasciviously licking his lips. Is he savouring the moment or is his action one of anticipation?

As the cabin boy is bent double and his arse examined, his trembling body is racked with his sobs. However this elicits no sympathy from the crowd of onlookers; his crying and his tears are greeted by loud jeers and coarse laughter from the watching onlookers. Despite the precariousness of my own situation, I am overwhelmed with pity for his suffering. I am shocked at his degradation and the cruelty of his fate is beyond my understanding.

Dismissively, the last dealer to examine him slaps his arse - and this echoes loudly around the enclosed confines of the courtyard - and he is made to face the front. Callously, one of the black clad dealers pinches the slave's nose forcing him to open his mouth to breathe. He continues to hold the nose as the young slave's teeth are examined. Finally satisfied, they discuss the slave's suitability place their mark on his chest and he is given over to the custody of an African overseer.

I watch as he is led away and I note the wild-eyed look of terror on his face. No doubt he is fearful for his future. Like me, he would have heard the older sea hands' lurid tales as to the fate that awaits any good looking lad who is unfortunate enough to fall into corsair hands. And this boy is beyond just being good looking. His open face, blond curls and blue eyes give him an angelic beauty rarely found in males.

However his beauty is a double edged sword. It spares him the horrors of the galleys or the quarries - although once his looks and charm fade that will inevitably be his fate. He has attracted the Pasha's attention and for now it assures him of the comparatively easy life of a garzon in the viceroy's harem. In fact, he is destined to become a kocek slave who must now dance to please the Pasha and to arouse his Master's lust for his body.

The dealers move on and pause before a strongly built, young Dutch seaman. Like the cabin boy, he too is subjected to the most intimate of inspections before he is selected, marked and led away to the small group of waiting slaves who now part of the Pasha's penjic. He is the third to be chosen and must wait as another three are selected.

When all six have been chosen, the cabin boy will be taken to the Pasha's palace and prepared for his new role. His less fortunate companions - the five chosen as beylik slaves - will be taken to the slave barracks where their heads will be shorn and the hair on their bodies singed to deny a safe haven for body lice. Lastly they will be fitted with the accoutrements of their slavery; the heavy iron, neck collars and iron wrist and ankle bracelets mandatory for all public work slaves. Once these are fitted, they will be taken to the quarries to begin their soul-destroying labours.

Those of us who aren't chosen- and thankfully the three grim, black robed figures bypass both Joachim and I with no more than a cursory look- the remaining forty-two of us are now to be taken to the market-place and sold.

But I am to find this isn't as straight forward as I would expect. I will be sold but before my new master takes delivery of me, I will be brought back before the Pasha for a second time.


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