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WE have lately taken a little journey together, and now we want to take a longer one. Whither? To Sparta, to Mycene, to Delphi? There are a hundred places at whose names the heart beats with the desire of travel. On horseback we go up the mountain paths through brake and through brier. A single traveller makes an appearance like a whole caravan. He rides forward with his guide, a packhorse carries trunks, a tent, and provisions, and a few armed soldiers follow as a guard. No inn with warm beds awaits him at the end of his tiring day's journey: the tent is often his dwelling-place in the great wild region; the guide cooks him a pilau of rice, fowls, and curry for his supper. A thousand gnats swarm round the tent. It is a miserable night, and tomorrow the way will lead across swollen streams; sit fast on your horse that you may not be washed away!

What is your reward for undergoing these hardships? The fullest , richest reward . Nature manifests herself here in all her greatness ; every spot is historical , and the eye and the thoughts are alike delighted. The poet may sing it, the painter portray it in rich pictures; but the air of reality which sinks deep into the soul of the spectator, and remains there, neither painter nor poet can reproduce.

The lonely herdsman yonder on the hills would, perhaps, by a simple recital of an event in his life, better enlighten you, who wish in a few features to behold the land of the Hellenes , than any writer of travel could do .

“Then , ” says my Muse , “let him speak . ”

A custom, a good, peculiar custom, shall be the subject of the mountain shepherd's tale. It is called


The Bond of Friendship.


Our rude house was put together of clay; but the door posts were columns of fluted marble found near the spot where the house was erected . The roof reached almost down to the ground . It was now dark brown and ugly , but it had originally consisted of blooming olive and fresh laurel branches brought from beyond the mountain. Around our dwelling was a narrow gorge, whose walls of rock rose steeply upwards, and showed naked and black, and round their summits often hung clouds, like white living figures . Never did I hear a singing bird there , never did the men there dance to the sound of the bagpipe; but the spot was sacred from the old times : even its name reminded of this , for it was called Delphi! The dark solemn mountains were all covered with snow; the highest , which gleamed the longest in the red light of evening, was Parnassus; the brook which flowed from it near our house was once sacred also . Now the ass sullies it with its feet , but the stream rolls on and on , and becomes clear again . How I can remember every spot in the deep holy solitude! In the midst of the hut a fire was kindled, and when the hot ashes lay there red and glowing, the bread was baked in them. When the snow was piled so high around our hut as almost to hide it, my mother appeared most cheerful: then she would hold my head between her hands, kiss my forehead, and sing the songs she never sang at other times , for the Turks our masters would not allow it. She sang:

“On the summit of Olympus , in the forest of dwarf firs , lay an old stag . His eyes were heavy with tears ; he wept red , green , and even pale blue tears ; and there came a roebuck by , and said , ‘ What ails thee , that thou weepest those blue , green , and red tears ?’ And the stag answered , ‘ The Turk has come to our village : he has wild dogs for the chase , a goodly pack . ’ ‘ I will drive them away across the island , ’ Cried the young roebuck , ‘ I will drive them away across the islands into the deep sea ! ’ Butbefore evening .sank down the roebuck was slain , and before night the .stag was hunted and dead . ”

And when my mother sang thus , her eyes became moist , and on the long eyelashes hung a tear; but she hid it, and baked our black bread in the ashes. Then I would clench my fist and cry .

“We will kill the Turks !”

But she repeated from the song the words ,

“I will drive them across the islands into the deep sea. But before evening sank down the roebuck was slain, and before the night came the stag was hunted and dead . ”

For several days and nights we had been lonely in our hut , when my father came home . I knew he would bring me shells from the Gulf of Lepanto, or perhaps even a bright gleaming knife. This time he brought us a child, a little half-naked girl, that he carried under his sheepskin cloak. It was wrapped in a fur, and all that the little creature possessed when this was taken off, and she lay in my mother' s lap , were three silver coins , fastened in her dark hair. My father told us that the Turks had killed the child's parents; and he told so much about them that Idreamed of the Turks all night . He himself had been wounded, and my mother bound up his arm. The wound was deep , and the thick sheep-skin was stiff with frozen blood. The little maiden was to be my sister. How radiantly beautiful she looked! Even my mother's eyes were not more gentle than hers. Anastasia, as she was called, was to be my sister, because her father had been united to mine by the old custom which we still keep . They had sworn brotherhood in their youth, and chosen the most beautiful and virtuous girl in the neighbourhood to consecrate their bond of friendship. I often heard of the strange good custom.

So now the little girl was my sister. She sat in my lap, and I brought her flowers and the feathers of the mountain birds : we drank together of the waters of Parnassus, and slept, cheek to cheek, under the laurel roof of the hut , while my mother sang winter after winter about the red , green , and pale blue tears . But as yet I did not understand that it was my own countrymen whose manysorrows were mirrored in those tears .

One day there came three Frankish men . Their dress was different from ours . They had tents and beds with them on their horses, and more than twenty Turks , all armed with swords and muskets, accompanied them; for they were friends of the pasha, and had letters from him commanding an escort for them. They only came to see our mountains, to ascend Parnassus amid the snow and the clouds, and to look at the strange black steep rocks near our hut . They could not find room in it , nor could they endure the smoke that rolled along the ceiling and found its way out at the low door; therefore they pitched their tents on the small space outside our dwelling, roasted lambs and birds , and poured out strong sweet wine , of which the Turks were not allowed to partake .

When they departed, I accompanied them for some distance, carrying my little sister Anastasia, wrapped in a goat-skin, on my back. One of the Frankish gentlemen made me stand in front of a rock, and drew me, and her too, as we stood there, so that we looked like one creature. I never thought of it before, but Anastasia and I were really one . She was always sitting in my lap or riding in the goat-skin at my back, and when I dreamed, she appeared in my dreams .

Two nights afterwards, other men, armed with knives and muskets , came into our tent . They were Albanians , brave men , my mother told me . They only stayed a short time . My sister Anastasia sat on the knee of one of them, and when they were gone she had not three, but only two silver coins in her hair. They wrapped tobacco in strips of paper and smoked it . I remember they were undecided as to the road they were to take .

But they had to make a choice . They went , and my father went with them. Soon afterwards we heard the sound of loud firing, soldiers rushed into our tent, and took my mother, and myself, and my sister Anastasia prisoners . They declared that the robbers had been entertained by us, and that my father had acted as the robbers' guide, and therefore we must go with them. Presently I saw the bodies of the robbers brought in; I sawmy father's body too. I cried and cried till I fell asleep. When I awoke, we were in prison, but the room was not worse than ours in our own house . They gave me onions to eat , and musty wine poured from a tarry cask , but we had no better fare at home .

How long we were kept prisoners I do not know; but many days and nights went by . When we were set free it was the time of the holy Easter feast . I carried Anastasia on my back , for my mother was ill , and could only move slowly , and it was a long way till we came down to the sea , to the Gulf of Lepanto . We went into a church that gleamed with pictures painted on a golden ground. They were pictures of angels, and very beautiful; but it seemed to me that our little Anastasia was just as beautiful. In the middle of the floor stood a coffin filled with roses . “The Lord Christ is pictured there in the form of a beautiful rose,” said my mother; and the priest announced, “Christ is risen ! ” All the people kissed each other: each one had a burning taper in his hand, and I received one myself , and so did little Anastasia . The bagpipes sounded, men danced hand in hand from the church, and outside the women were roasting the Easter lamb. We were invited to partake, and I sat by the fire; a boy, older than myself , put his arms around my neck , kissed me, and said , “Christ is risen ! ” and thus it was that for the first time I met Aphtanides.

My mother could make fishermen's nets, for which there was a good demand here in the bay , and we lived a long time by the side of the sea, the beautiful sea, that tasted l............

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