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A long unpunished pirate, a liberated galley-slave, Achmet-rëis by name, was the fiend of hell, who by his ingenuity in contriving new tortures, and his infernal delight in beholding new sufferings, had deserved to become the chief inspector of this place, and the chief minister of its terrors. His joys were great, but they were not yet complete. Only permitted thus far to exercise his craft on mortals, he was still obliged to calculate what degree of agony the human frame could bear, and to proportion his inflictions to man's powers of suffering, lest, by despatching his victims too soon, he should defeat his own aim. He was not yet received among his brother demons, in the blissful abodes where torments, do not kill, and where pangs may be increased in an infinite ratio.
Of this truth the very hour of my arrival had afforded him a sorely lamented proof. An American cashier, suspected of withholding from the Sultan-sole heir to all his officers-the deposit of a deceased Pasha, had just been delivered over into Achmet's hands; and many were the days of bliss to which the executioner looked forward in the diligent performance of his office. On the
On the very first application of the rack, out of sheer malice, the Seraff expired!
Two days later the whole of Achmet's prospects of sublunary happiness were near coming to a close. Some wretches, driven by his cruelty to a state of madness, had sworn his destruction. Their hands,
tied behind their backs, could be of no use to them in effecting their purpose :--they determined to crush him with their bodies. All at the same instant fell with their whole weight upon the executioner, or upon their own companions already heaped upon the monster, in hopes of burying his corpse under a living tumulus. But Achmet's good star prevailed. Ere yet his suffocation was completed, soldiers rescued the miscreant. He recovered, to wreak on his disappointed enemies his fiercest vengeance. Their punishment was dreadful ! Sanguinary but not cruel, prone to shed blood in anger, yet shuddering at torture, I was horror-struck at the scene, and the yells of the victims still ring in my ears.
Characters meet at large in the world, which may almost count as sure their meeting again, some time or other, within the narrow precincts of the Bagnio. Of this species was the Captain of the Maynote pirates who took our Venetian cutter.
He now occupied his winter quarters among the galley-slaves. Though I had had but little time on our first interview to cultivate his acquaintance, I could not help remembering, that from the moment his tall commanding figure rose above the side of our vessel, and stepped on board, my stars had assumed a milder aspect, and my situation had been improved. Each, therefore, was glad of the rencontre ; each expressed his sincere pleasure at meeting the other; each
politely hoped the other might be destined to make a long sojourn in the place.
There are men so gifted, that in whatever situation fate may place them, they still inspire a certain awe and respect, and, though fallen through dint of adverse circumstances into the most abject condition, still retain over all around them an innate superiority. Of this sort was Mackari. He had been one of the chieftains of that small tribe of mountaineers, pent up in the peninsula of Mayno, who, like greater nations, claim dominion over the seas that gird their native rocks. Mackari, therefore, had only considered himself as acting conformably to his natural right, in capturing the vessels that trespassed on his domain without purchasing his permission; and in his conduct, he discerned neither injustice nor treachery. Hence his lofty soul still preserved all its dignity amid his fallen fortunes. Patient under every insult, unruffled by the direst torture, he was never heard to utter a sigh, to offer a remonstrance, or to beg a mitigation of the agonies inflicted on him. Even when his keepers, unable to wrest from his scornful lip the smallest acknowledgement of their ingenuity in torturing, began to doubt their own powers, and, irritated at his very forbearance, resolved to conquer by a last and highest outrage his immovable firmness; when with weights and pullies they forced down to the ground that countenance, which, serene
in the midst of suffering, seemed only fit to face the heavens; when they compelled him, whose mental independence defied all their means of coercion, constantly to behold the fetters that contracted his body, they only succeeded to depress his earthly frame; they were not able to lower his unbending spirit. Still calm, still serene as before, he only smiled at the fresh chains with which he was loaded; and at each new fetter added to his former shackles, his mind only seemed to take a loftier flight.
Yet, impassible as he appeared to his own woes, was he most feelingly alive to those of his companions. Of every new hardship with which they were threatened, he uniformly stood forward to court the preference; and while his fortitude awed into silence the useless complaints of his troop, his self-devotion still relieved its real nisery. One day, when a ferocious soldier was going to fell with his club the comrade of Mackari's fetters, whom his manacled hands could not save from the blow, he opposed to the frightful weapon all he could command, his arm ; which, broken by the stroke, fell by his side a wreck.
Thus did the Maynote captain's former crew still view in their chief, though loaded with irons like themselves, not only the master to whom they continued to pay all the obedience they could show, but the protector on whom they depended for all the comfort they could receive. His very keepers were
unable in his sight to shake off the awe felt by all who approached him. They confessed by their fears their nothingness in his presence: they scarce could derive a sufficient sense of security from all the fetters which they had heaped upon their victim. In vain would he himself, with a bitter and disdainful smile, point to his forlorn state, and ask what they apprehended from one on whom they might trample with impunity ? The mere sound of his voice seemed to belie his words. It was the roar of a lion, dreaded even through the bars of his cage. And when his shackles were loosened in order that his daily labours might begin ; when Mackari was enabled to raise for a moment his long depressed head; when his majestic brow soared above the humbler height of his tallest companions,-he looked like the cedar of Lebanon, which, though scathed by the lightning from heaven, still overtops all the trees of the forest; and the wretches to whose care he was committed used immediately to recede to a fearful distance.
Unendowed with any of the forbearance of the Maynote chief, I had scarcely been an hour in the Bagnio before I began to measure with my eye the height of its walls, to consider the strength of its gates, and to count the number of its guards. A good-natured fellow sufferer, who guessed my thoughts, called me aside. 66 Take care what
you do,” whispered he; “ there is danger even in looking at these walls. The mere suspicion of a plan to escape from this place meets with the severest pu