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Chapter 2 Photini
You divine, from the appearance of my clothes, that I have not ten thousand francs with me. My father is an inn-keeper whom the railroads have ruined. In prosperous times he eats bread, in bad years potatoes. Add to this, that there are six children, all with good appetites. The day on which I received my commission from the Jardin des Plantes, there was a festival given in the family. My departure would not only increase the portion of each of my brothers, but I was to have two hundred and fifty francs per month and the expenses for my journey. It was a fortune. From that moment they ceased to call me Doctor. They dubbed me beef-merchant, so that I should appear rich! My brothers prophesied that I would be elected Professor by the University, on my return from Athens. My father hoped that I would return married. In his position of inn-keeper, he had assisted in some very romantic adventures. He cited, at least three times a week, the marriage of the Princess Ypsoff and Lieutenant Reynauld. The Princess occupied the finest apartments, with her two maids and her Courier, and she gave twenty florins a day. The French Lieutenant was in No. 17, way up under the eaves, and he paid a florin and a half, food included; however, after a month’s sojourn at the hotel, he departed in a carriage with the Russian lady.

My poor father, with the partiality of a father, thought that I was handsomer and more elegant than Lieutenant Reynauld; he did not doubt but that, sooner or later, I would meet a princess who would enrich us all. If I did not find her at a table d’hote, I would see her in a railway carriage. If the powers which control the railroads were not propitious, there was still left the steamships. The evening of my departure, we drank a bottle of old Rhine wine, and by chance the last was poured into my glass. The good man wept with joy: it was a sure sign, and nothing could prevent me from marrying within a year. I respected his superstitions, and I refrained from saying that princesses rarely travel third class. As for lodgings, my humble luggage would not permit me to choose any but modest inns, and royal families do not, usually, lodge in them. The fact is, that I landed in Greece without an adventure of any kind.

The army occupying the city made everything very dear in Athens. The Hotel d’Angleterre, the Hotel Orient, the Hotel des Etrangers were inaccessible. The Chancellor of the Prussian Legation, to whom I had brought a letter of introduction, was kind enough to assist me in finding a lodging. He took me to a pastry-cook’s , at the corner of the Rue d’Hèrmes and the Place du Palais. I found there, board and lodging for a hundred francs a month. Christodule was an old Palikar, decorated with the Iron Cross, in memory of the War of Independence. He was a Lieutenant in the Phalanx, he wore the National costume, the red bonnet with blue tassel, the silver-colored vest, the white skirt, and the fancy leggins, when he sold ices and cakes. His wife, Maroula, was enormous, like all Greek women who have passed fifty. Her husband had purchased her during the war, when women sold for high prices. She was born in the Isle of Hydra, but she dressed in the Athenian fashion: upper garment or jacket of black velvet, skirt of a bright color, a silk handkerchief tied over her head. Neither Christodule nor his wife knew a word of German; but their son Dimitri, who was a servant hired by the day, and who dressed like a Frenchman, understood and spoke a little of each patois of Europe. Upon the whole, I had really no need of an interpreter. Without having received the gift of tongues, I am a fairly good linguist, and I murder Greek as readily as English, Italian or French.

My hosts were worthy people; they gave me a little white-washed room, with a table of white wood, two straw-bottomed chairs, a good but thin mattress, and some cotton quilts. A wooden bed is a superfluity which the Greeks easily deny themselves, and we lived a la Grecque. I breakfasted on a cup of arrow-root; I dined on a plate of meat with many olives, and dry fish; I supped on vegetables, honey and cakes. Preserves were not rare in the house, and occasionally I evoked memories of home by dining on a leg of lamb and preserves. It is useless to tell you that I had my pipe, and that the tobacco in Athens is better than yours. That which contributed to my feeling perfectly at home in Christodule’s house, was a light wine of Santorin, which he bought, I know not where. I am not a judge of wines, and the education of my palate has, unfortunately, been neglected, but I believe, however, that this wine is worthy of a place on a king’s table: it is of a fine topaz color, sparkling as the smile of a child. I see it now, in its large bulging carafe, on the shining linen cloth. It lighted the table and we were able to sup without any other illumination. I never drank much of it, because it was heady; and yet, at the end of a meal, I have recited some of Anacreon’s verses and I have discovered remains of beauty in the moon-shaped face of the gross Maroula.

I ate with Christodule and his family. There were four regular boarders and one table boarder. The first floor was divided into four rooms, the best of which was occupied by a French Archaeologist, M. Hippolyte Mérinay. If all Frenchmen resemble this one, you would be a sorry lot. He was very small; his age, as far as one could tell, anywhere between eighteen and forty-five, very red-haired, very mild, very loquacious, and never loosening his moist and warm hands, when he had once fastened them on a person, until he had exhausted himself talking. His two dominant passions were archaeology and philanthropy: he was a member of many literary societies and of many benevolent associations. Although he was an advocate of charity, and his parents had left him a fine income, I do not remember ever to have seen him give a sou to a beggar. As for his knowledge of archaeology, I believe that it was of more account than his love for humanity. He had received a prize from some provincial College, for a treatise on the value of paper in the time of Orpheus. Encouraged by these first successes, he had come to Greece to gather material for a more important work: it was nothing less than to determine the quantity of oil consumed in Demosthenes’ lamp while he wrote the second Philippic.

My two other neighbors were not so wise, and ancient things disturbed them not at all. Giacomo Fondi was a poor Maltese employed at, I know not what consulate; he earned a hundred and fifty francs a month sealing letters. I imagine that any other employment would have pleased him better. Nature, who has peopled the Island of Malta in order that the Orient should never lack porters, had given to poor Fondi the shoulders, arms and hands of a Milo of Crotona: he was born to handle a club, and not to melt sealing-wax with which to seal letters. He used, however, two or three sticks every day: man is not the master of his destiny! The islander out of his sphere, was in his element only at meal-time; he helped Maroula to place the table, and you will understand, without being told, that he always carried it at arms-length. He ate like the hero of the Iliad, and I shall never forget the cracking of his huge jaws, the dilation of his nostrils, the flash of his eyes, the whiteness of his thirty-two teeth, formidable mill-stones of which he was the mill. I ought to confess that I remember little of his conversation; one easily found the limit of his intelligence, but one never found the bounds of his appetite. Christodule had never made anything during the four years he had boarded him, although the Maltese had paid ten francs a month extra. The insatiable islander ate every day, after dinner, an enormous plateful of nuts, which he cracked between his first finger and thumb. Christodule, old soldier, but practical man, followed this exercise with a mixture of admiration and fear; he trembled for his dessert, yet he was proud to see, at his table, so huge a nut-cracker. The face of Giacomo Fondi would not have been out of place in one of the jumping-jack boxes, which so amuse children. It was whiter than a negro’s ; but it was a question of shade only. His thick locks descended to his eyebrows like a cap. In strange contrast, this Caliban had a very small foot, a slender ankle, a fine-shaped leg and as perfect as one finds in a statue; but these were details which one scarcely noticed. For whoever had seen him eat, his person began at the edge of the table; the rest of the body counted for nothing.

I can speak only from memory of William Lobster. He was a cherub of twenty years, blonde, rosy and chubby, but a cherub of the United States of America. The firm of Lobster and Sons, New York, had sent him to the Orient to study the subject of exportation. He worked during the day in the house of Philips Brothers; in the evening, he read Emerson; in the early morning or at sunrise he went to Socrates’ school to practice pistol-shooting.

The most interesting person in our little colony was without doubt, John Harris, the maternal uncle of the little Lobster. The first time that I dined with this strange man, I was greatly taken with the American. He was born at Vandalia, Illinois. Breathing the invigorating air of the new world from his birth, his every movement was joyous. I do not know whether the Harris family was rich or poor; whether the son went to College, or whether he educated himself. What was certain was, that at twenty-eight he relied on himself alone; was astonished at nothing; believed nothing impossible; never flinched; was amenable to reason; hoped for the best; attempted everything; triumphed in everything! If he fell, he immediately jumped up; if he stammered, he began all over again; he gave himself no rest; never lost courage, and went right ahead. He was well-educated, had been teacher, lawyer, journalist, miner, farmer, clerk. He had read everything, seen everything, tried everything, and had traveled over more than half of the globe. When I made his acquaintance he was commanding a Dispatch-boat, carrying sixty men and four cannons. He wrote of the Orient in the Boston Review; he transacted business with an indigo house in Calcutta, and yet he found time to come, four or five times a week, to dine with his nephew, Lobster, and with us.

A single instance, of a thousand, will serve to show his character. Early in the fifties he was in business in Philadelphia. His nephew, who was then seventeen, made him a visit. He found him near Washington Square, standing with his hands in his pockets, before a burning building. William touched him on the shoulder; he turned.

“Ah: Good-morning, Bill, thou hast arrived inopportunely, my boy. There is a fire which ruins me; I have forty thousand dollars in that house; we will not save a match.”

“What will you do?” asked the astonished boy.

“What will I do? It is eleven o’clock, I am hungry, I have a little money in my pocket; I am going to take you to breakfast.”

Harris was one of the most slender and most elegant men I have ever seen. He had a manly air, a fine forehead, a clear and proud eye.

Americans are never deformed nor mean-looking, and do you know why? Because they are not bound in the swaddling-clothes of a narrow civilization. Their minds and their bodies develop at will; their schoolroom is the open air; their master, exercise; their nurse, liberty.

I never cared especially for M. Mérinay; I looked at Giacomo Fondi with the indifferent curiosity with which one gazes at foreign animals; the little Lobster inspired me with luke-warm interest; but I conceived a warm affection for Harris. His frank face, his simple manners, his sternness which was not without sweetness, his hasty yet chivalrous temper, the oddities of his humor, the enthusiasm of his sentiments, appealed to me more strongly as I was neither enthusiastic nor hasty. We admire in others what we lack ourselves. Giacomo wore white clothes because he was black; I adore Americans because I am a German. As for the Greeks, I knew little of them even after four months’ sojourn in their country. Nothing is easier than living in Athens without coming in contact with the natives. I did not go to a café; I did not read the Pandore, nor the Minerve; nor any other paper of the country; I did not go to the theater, because I have a sensitive ear and a false note hurts me more cruelly than a blow; I lived with my hosts, my herbarium, and with John Harris. I could have presented myself at the Palace, thanks to my diplomatic pass-port and my official title. I had sent my card to the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, and I could count upon an invitation to the first Court Ball. I kept in reserve for this occasion, a beautiful red coat, embroidered with silver, which my Aunt Rosenthaler had given to me the night before my departure. It was her husband’s uniform; he was an assistant in a Scientific Institute, and prepared the specimens. My good aunt, a woman of great sense, knew that a uniform was well received in all countries, above all if it was red. My elder brother had remarked that I was larger than my uncle, as the sleeves were too short; but Papa quickly replied, that only the silver embroidery would catch the eye, and that princesses would not examine the uniform closely.

Unfortunately, the Court was not dancing that season. The winter pleasures were the flowering of almond, peach, and lemon trees. There was a vague report of a ball to be given the 15th of May; it made a stir in the city, as a few semi-official journals took it up; but there was nothing positively known about it.

My studies kept pace with my pleasures, slowly. I knew, by heart, the Botanical Gardens of Athens; they were neither very beautiful nor very full; it was a subject soon mastered. The Royal Gardens offered far more to study: an intelligent Frenchman had collected for it all the riches of the vegetable kingdom, from the palms of the West Indies to the saxifrage of the North. I passed whole days there studying M. Barraud’s collections. The garden is public only at certain hours; but I spoke Greek to the guards, and for love of the Greek, they permitted me to enter. M. Barraud did not seem to weary of my company; he took me everywhere for the pleasure of discussing Botany and speaking French. In his absence, I hunted up the head gardener and questioned him in German: it is well to be polyglot.

I searched for plants every day in the surrounding country, but never as far from the city as I should like to have gone; there were many brigands around Athens. I am not a coward, the following story will prove it to you, but I love my life. It is a present which I received from my parents; I wish to preserve it as long as possible, in remembrance of my father and mother. In the month of April, 1856, it was dangerous to go far from the city: it was even imprudent to live outside. I did not venture upon the slopes of Lycabettus without thinking of poor Mme. Daraud who was robbed in broad daylight. The hills of Daphne recalled to me the capture of two French officers. Upon the road to Piraeus, I thought, involuntarily, of the band of brigands who traveled in six carriages as if on a pleasure tour, and who shot at passers by from the coach doors. The road to Pentelicus recalled the stopping of the Duchess de Plaisance, or the recent story of Harris and Lobster’s adventure. They were returning from an excursion, on two Persian horses belonging to Harris, when they fell into an ambuscade. Two brigands, weapons in hand, stopped them in the middle of a bridge. They glanced all around and saw at their feet, in a ravine, a dozen rascals, armed to the teeth, who were guarding fifty or sixty prisoners. All who had passed that way since sunrise had been despoiled, then bound, so that no one could escape to give the alarm. Harris and his nephew were unarmed. Harris said to the young man in English: “Give up your money; it will not pay to be killed for twenty dollars.” The brigands took the money, without letting go the bridles; they then showed the Americans the ravine and signed to them to descend. Harris now lost patience; it was repugnant to him to be bound; he was not the kind of wood of which one makes fagots. He looked at the little Lobster, and at the same instant, two fist blows like two chain-shots, struck the heads of the two brigands. William’s adversary fell over on his back, at the same time, discharging his pistol; Harris’ brigand, struck more forcibly, toppled over the cliff and fell among his comrades. Harris and Lobster were by this time quite a distance away, jamming the spurs into their horses. The band rose as one man and discharged their weapons. The horses were killed, the young men disengaged themselves, took to their heels, and when they reached the city, warned the police, who started in pursuit of the brigands the second morning after.

Our excellent Christodule learned with grief of the death of the two horses; but he found not a word of blame for the killers. “What would you have?” he asked with charming simplicity, “it is their business.” All Greeks are, more or less, of our host’s opinion. It is not that the brigands spare their countrymen and reserve their harshness for strangers, but a Greek, robbed by his brother, says to himself with a certain resignation, that the money is all in the family. The populace sees itself plundered by the brigands, as a woman of the people who is beaten by her husband, admires him because he strikes hard. Native moralists complained of the excesses committed in the country, as a father deplores his son’s pranks. He groans loudly, but secretly admires him; he would be ashamed if he was like his neighbor’s son who never had to be spoken to.

It was a fact, that at the time of my arrival, the hero of Athens was the scourge of Attica. In the salons and in the cafés, in the barber-shops where the common people congregated, at the pharmacies where the bourgeoise were to be found, in the muddy streets of the bazars, in the dusty square of Belle-Gréce, at the theater, at the Sunday concerts, and upon the road to Patissia, one heard only of the great Hadgi-Stavros; one swore only by Hadgi-Stavros; Hadgi-Stavros the invincible, Hadgi-Stavros the terror of the police, Hadgi-Stavros, “The King of the Mountains!” They almost composed (God pardon me) a litany on Hadgi-Stavros.

One Sunday, a little while after his adventure, John Harris dined with us; I started Christodule upon the subject of Hadgi-Stavros. Our host had often visited him, years before, during the War of Independence, when brigandage was less discussed than now.

He emptied his glass of Sautorin, stroked his gray mustache, and began a long recital, interspersed with many sighs. He informed us that Stavros was the son of a bishop or priest of the Greek Church, in the island of Tino. He was born God knew in what year; Greeks of early times knew not their ages, because registries of the civil state are an invention of the decadence. His father, who destined him for the Church, taught him to read. When about twenty years of age, he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and added to his name the title, Hadgi; which means, pilgrim. Hadgi-Stavros, returning to his own country, was taken prisoner by a pirate. The conqueror found him amenable to reason and made a sailor of him. Thus he began to make war on Turkish ships, and, generally, on those which had not mounted guns. At the end of several years, he tired of working for others, and determined to push out for himself. He possessed neither boat, nor money to buy one; necessity compelled him to practice piracy on land. The rising of the Greeks against Turkey permitted him to fish in troubled waters. He never could tell exactly whether he was a brigand or an insurgent; whether he commanded a band of thieves or insurrectionists. His hatred of the Turks did not blind him to the degree that he could pass a Greek village without seeing it and sacking it. All money was good to him, whether it came from friend or foe, from a simple theft or a glorious pillage. Such wise impartiality rapidly increased his fortune. The shepherds hastened to place themselves under his banner, when they learned that good pay might be expected; his reputation brought him an army. The leaders of the insurrection knew of his exploits, but not of his thrift: in those times, one saw only the bright side of everything. Lord Byron dedicated an ode to him; poets and orators in Paris compared him to Epaminondas, and even to poor Aristides. Some sent him embroidered clothes from the Faubourg Saint-Germain; others sent subsidies. He received money from France, from England and from Russia; I will not swear that he never received any from Turkey: he was a true Palikar! At the end of the war, he was besieged, with other chiefs, in the Acropolis at Athens. He slept in the propyleum, between Margaritis and Lygandas, and each had his treasure hid in the blanket which covered him. One summer night, the roof fell so cleverly that it killed every one but Hadgi-Stavros, who was smoking his pipe in the open air. He secured his companions’ money and every one thought that he well deserved it. But a misfortune which he had not foreseen checked his successful career: peace was declared. Hadgi-Stavros retired to the country with his spoils, and became a spectator of strange occurrences. The powers which had freed Greece attempted to found a kingdom. Some offensive words came buzzing around the hairy ears of the old robber; he heard rumors of government—of armies—of public order. He laughed when told that his possessions were included in one sub-prefecture. But when an employée from the Treasury presented himself to collect the yearly taxes, he became serious. He threw the man out of the door, not without having relieved him of all he had brought with him. Justice sought to punish him; he took to the mountains. It was as well, for he was tired of his house. He felt, to a certain extent, that he owned a roof, but on condition that he slept above it.

His former companions-in-arms had scattered all over the kingdom. The State had given them lands; they cultivated them reluctantly and ate sparingly of the bitter bread of labor. When they learned that their chief was at variance with the law, they sold their farms and hastened to join him. As for the brigand, he rented his lands: he had the qualifications of an administrator.

Peace and idleness had made him ill and unhappy. The mountain air restored his cheerfulness and health, so that in 1840 he thought of marriage. He was, assuredly, past fifty, but men of his temper have nothing to do with old age; death, even, looks at them twice before it attacks them. He married an heiress with a magnificent dowry, from one of the best families in Laconia, and thus became allied to the highest personages of the kingdom. His wife followed him everywhere. After giving birth to a daughter, she took a fever and died. He brought up the child himself, with all the care and tenderness of a mother. When the brigands saw him dancing the babe on his knees, they exclaimed with admiration.

Paternal love gave a new impetus to his mind. In order to amass a royal dowry for his daughter, he studied the money question, about which he had previously held very primitive views. Instead of hoarding up his treasures in strong boxes, he put them out at interest. He learned all the ins and outs of speculation; he followed closely the stock-market at home and abroad. It is asserted that, struck with the advantages of the French joint-stock company, he even thought of placing brigandage on the market. He made many journeys to Europe, in the company of a Greek from Marseilles who served as interpreter. During his stay in England, he assisted at an election in, I know not what rotten borough of Yorkshire; this beautiful spectacle inspired him with profound reflections on constitutional government and its profits. He returned to Greece determined to exploit his theories and gain an income for himself. He burned a goodly number of villages in the service of the opposition; he destroyed a few others in the interests of the conservative party. When it was considered desirable to overthrow a ministry, it was only necessary to apply to him; he proved, conclusively, that the police were very corrupt and that safety could only be obtained by changing the Cabinet. But in revenge, he gave some rude lessons to the enemies of order in punishing them in whatever way they had sinned. His political talents made him so well known, that all parties held him in high esteem. His counsels, his election methods, were nearly always followed; so well that, contrary to the principle of the government representative, who wished one deputy to express the wishes of many men; he was represented, he alone, by about thirty deputies. An intelligent Minister, the celebrated Rhalettis, suggested that a man who meddles so officiously in government affairs, might possibly, sometime, derange the machine. He undertook to bind his hands with golden cord. He made an arrangement to meet him at Carvati; between Hymettus and Pentelicus, in the country-house of a Foreign Consul. Hadgi-Stavros came, without escort and without arms. The minister and the brigand, who were old acquaintances, breakfasted together like two old friends. At the end of the meal, Rhalettis offered to him full amnesty for himself and his followers, a brevet of General of Division, title of Senator, and ten thousand hectares of forests. The Palikar hesitated some time, and at last said: “I should, perhaps, have accepted at twenty, but to-day, I am too old. I do not wish, at my age, to change my manner of living. Dusty Athens does not please me, I should go to sleep in the Senate-chamber, and if you should give me soldiers to command, I might discharge my pistols into their uniforms from force of habit. Return then, to your own affairs, and leave me to attend to mine.”

Rhalettis would not own that he was beaten. He tried to enlighten the brigand as to the infamy of his life. Hadgi-Stavros laughed and said with amiability:

“My friend, the day when we shall write down our sins, which will have the longest list?”

“You think, then, that you will cheat destiny; you will die, some day or other, a violent death.”

“Gracious Lord;” (Allah Kerin;) he replied in Turkish. “Neither you nor I have read the stars. But I have at least one advantage: my enemies wear a uniform and I recognize them afar off. You cannot say as much for yours. Adieu, brother.”

Six months afterward, the Minister was assassinated by political enemies; the brigand still lived.

Our host did not relate to us all the exploits of his hero: the day was not long enough. He contented himself by relating the most remarkable ones. I do not believe that in any other country the rivals of Hadgi-Stavros had ever done anything more artistic than the capture of the Niebuhr. It was a steamer of the German-Lloyd which the Palikar had robbed on land, at eleven o’clock in the morning. The Niebuhr came to Constantinople; it unloaded its cargo and passengers at Calamaki, east of the Isthmus of Corinth. Four vans and two omnibusses took the passengers and merchandise to the other side of the Isthmus, to the little port of Loutraki, where another ship awaited them. It waited a long time. Hadgi-Stavros, in broad daylight, in plain view of all the world, in a flat and open country, relieved them of their merchandise, their luggage, their money and the ammunition of the soldiers who escorted the company.

“That day’s work brought two hundred and fifty francs;” said Christodule to us in a tone of envy.

“Much was said of Hadgi-Stavros’ cruelties. His friend Christodule proved to us that he did not do wrong for pleasure. He was a sober man, who never became intoxicated, not even of blood. If it happened that he warmed, a little too much, a rich peasant’s feet, it was that he might learn where the miser hid his écus. In general, he treated with kindness the prisoners for whom he hoped to receive a ransom. In the summer of ‘54, he descended one evening, with his band, to M. Voidi’s house; he was a rich merchant from the Isle of Eubee. He found the family assembled, also an old judge of the Tribunal of Chalcis was present, taking a hand at cards with the master of the house. Hadgi-Stavros offered to play the magistrate for his liberty; he lost, and accepted with good grace. He carried off M. Voidi, his daughter and son; he left the wife that she might busy herself procuring the ransom. The day of the attack, the merchant had the gout, the daughter was ill of a fever, and the son was pale and puffy. They returned two months afterward, cured by exercise, the open air, and good entertainment. The whole family recovered health for a sum of fifty thousand francs: was it paying too high a price?”

“I confess,” added Christodule, “that our friend was without pity for poor payers. When a ransom was not paid on the appointed day, he promptly killed his prisoners; it was his way of protesting notes. However great may be my admiration for him, however warm the friendship between our two families, I have never pardoned him the murder of Mistra’s two little daughters. They were twins of fourteen, pretty as two marble statues, both betrothed to two young men of the Leondari family. They resembled each other so exactly, that one thought one saw double and began to rub one’s eyes. One morning, they went to sell cocoons; they carried between them a large basket, and they skimmed lightly over the road like two doves attached to the same car. Hadgi-Stavros took them to the mountain and wrote a letter to their mother, that he would return them for ten thousand francs, payable the end of the month. The mother was a well-to-do-widow, owner of fine mulberry groves, but poor in ready money, as we all are. She mortgaged her property, which is never easy to do, even at twenty per cent interest. It took her six weeks to gather up the sum required. When at last, she had the money, she loaded it on her mule and departed on foot for the brigand’s camp. But on entering the large valley of the Taygète at the point where one finds seven fountains under a plane-tree, the mule absolutely refused to stir. Then the mother saw at the border of the path, her little girls. Their throats had been cut and their pretty heads were almost dissevered. She took the two poor creatures, put them, herself, upon the mule’s back and carried them back to Mistra. She never wept; she became deranged, and died. I know that Hadgi-Stavros regretted what he had done; he believed that the widow was richer than she pretended, and that she did not wish to pay. He killed the two girls as an example. It is certain that, from that time, his outstanding debts were promptly paid and that no one dared to make him wait.”

“Vile beast!” cried Giacomo, bringing his fist down with a force which made the house tremble as from an earthquake. “If ever he falls under my hand, I will serve him with a ransom of ten thousand blows of the fist, which will enable him to withdraw himself from public life.”

“I,” said the little Lobster with his quiet smile, “I will only ask to meet him at fifty paces from my revolver. And you, Uncle John?”

Harris whistled between his teeth a little American air, sharp as a stiletto point.

“Can I believe my ears?” added the good M. Mérinay in his flute-like voice. “Is it possible that such horrors are committed in a country like ours? I am convinced that the Society for the Moralization of Malefactors has not yet been organized in this kingdom; but while waiting for that, have you not police?”

“Certainly,” replied Christodule, “fifty officers, 152 sergeants, and 1250 policemen, of whom 152 are mounted. It is the finest band of men in the kingdom after that belonging to Hadgi-Stavros.”

“What astonishes me,” I said in my turn, “is, that the old rascal’s daughter allows him to do such things.”

“She does not live with him.”

“Well and good: Where is she?”

“At a boarding-school.”

“In Athens?”

“You ask too much; I have known nothing of her for some time. Whoever marries her will receive a fine dowry with her.”

“Yes,” said Harris. “One can say as well that Calcraft’s daughter is a good match.”

“Who is Calcraft?”

“The Headsman of London.”

At these words, Dimitri, Christodule’s son, reddened to the roots of his hair. “Pardon, Monsieur,” he said to John Harris, “there is a great difference between a headsman and a brigand. The business of a headsman is infamous; the profession of a brigand is honored. The government is obliged to guard the headsman of Athens in the fort Palamede or he would be assassinated; while no one wishes evil to Hadgi-Stavros, and the most respectable people in the kingdom would be proud to shake hands with him.”

Harris opened his mouth to reply, when the shop bell rung. It was the servant who had entered with a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, dressed like the latest fashion-plate in the Journal des Modes. Dimitri said, as he rose from his chair: “It is Photini!”

“Messieurs,” said the pastry-cook, “talk of something else, if you please. Histories of brigands are not for young girls to hear.”

Christodule presented Photini to us as the daughter of one of his companions-in-arms, Colonel Jean, commanding at Nauplie. She called herself then, Photini; daughter of Jean, according to the custom of the country, where there were, properly speaking, no family names.

The young maid was ugly, as were nine-tenths of the Athenian girls. She had pretty teeth and beautiful hair, but that was all. Her thick-set body did not look well in a Parisian corset. Her feet, which were large, thick, and ill-shaped, were made for wearing Turkish slippers, and not to be compressed into the shoes of the fashionable boot-maker, Meyer. She was as dull-looking as if an imprudent nurse had committed the fault of sitting down on her face, when an infant. Fashion is not becoming to all women; it made the poor Photini almost ridiculous. Her flounced dress, extended over a huge crinoline, accentuated the clumsiness of her body and the awkwardness of her movements. Jewels from the Palais Royal with which she was decked seemed like exclamation points, destined to point out the imperfections of her body. You would have said that she was a stout and coarse servant-girl, masquerading in her mistress’ clothes.

We were not astonished to see the daughter of a simple Colonel so extravagantly and gorgeously arrayed, come to pass Sunday at a pastry-cook’s . We knew enough of the country to fully realize that dress was the incurable evil of Greek society. Country girls pierced silver pieces, strung them together and wore them upon the head on gala days. They carried their dowries on their heads. The city girls spent their money in the shops and carried their dowries on their backs.

Photini was in a boarding-school at Hétairie. It is, as you know, a school established on the model of the Legion of Honor, but regulated by rules broader and more tolerant. Usually, only daughters of soldiers were taught there, sometimes, also, brigands’ heiresses.

Colonel Jean’s daughter knew a little French and a little English; but her timidity did not permit of her shining in conversation. I learned later, that her family counted upon us to perfect her in these foreign tongues. Her father, having learned that Christodule boarded honorable and educated Europeans, had begged the pastry-cook to allow her to pass her Sundays with his family, and he would see that he was recompensed. This bargain pleased Christodule, and above all, his son, Dimitri. The young man, working in a servant’s place, devoured her with his eyes, while the heiress never perceived it.

We had made arrangements to go, all together, to a concert. It is a fine spectacle when the Athenians give themselves up to Sunday pleasures. The entire population, in gala dress, turns out into the dusty fields, to hear waltzes and quadrilles played by a regiment band. The poor go on foot, the rich in carriages, the fashionable men on horseback. The Court would not have stayed away for an empire. After the last quadrille, each returned to his home, clothes covered with dust, but with happy hearts, and said: “We have been very well amused.”

It was certain that Photini counted on showing herself at the concert, and her admirer, Dimitri, was not ashamed to appear with her; for he wore a new redingote which he had just bought at the Belle-Jardiniére. Unfortunately, it rained so steadily, that it kept us at home. To kill time, Maroula offered to let us play for bonbons; it is a favorite amusement among the middle classes. She took a glass jar from the shop, and gave to each one a handful of native bonbons, cloves, anise seed, pepper, and chicory. Then, the cards were dealt, and the first who collected nine of the same color, received three sugar plums from each of his adversaries. The Maltese, Giacomo, showed by his eagerness, that the winning was not a matter of indifference to him. Chance favored him; he made a fortune, and we saw him gulp down six or eight handfuls of bonbons which he had won from the rest of us.

I took little interest in the game, and concentrated my attention upon the curious phenomenon taking place on my left. While the glances which the young Athenian, Dimitri, cast upon Photini, were met with perfect indifference, Harris, who did not even look at her, seemed to produce a wonderful impression upon her, even to almost magnetize her. He held his cards with a nonchalant air, yawning, from time to time, with American freedom, or whistling Yankee Doodle, without respect for the company. I believe that Christodule’s story had made a great impression on him, and that his thoughts were roving over the mountains in pursuit of Hadgi-Stavros. In any case, whatever his thoughts were, they were not of love. Perhaps the young girl was not thinking of it either, for Greek women nearly always have in their hearts a substratum of indifference. She looked at my friend John, as a lark looks at a mirror. She did not know him; she knew nothing of him, neither his name, his country, nor his fortune. She had not heard him speak, and even if she had heard him, she certainly was not competent to judge of his ability. She saw that he was very handsome, and that was enough. Formerly, Greeks adored beauty; it was the only one of their duties which had never had any atheists. The Greeks of to-day, despite the decadence, know how to distinguish an Apollo from a baboon. One finds in M. Fauriel’s collection, a little song which may be translated thus:

“Young man, do you wish to know; young girls, would you like to learn, how love enters into our hearts? It enters by the eyes; from the eyes it descends to the heart, and in the heart it takes root!”

Decidedly, Photini knew the song; for she opened her eyes wide, so that love could enter without trouble.

The rain did not cease to fall, nor Dimitri to ogle the young girl, nor the young girl to gaze, wide-eyed, at Harris, nor Giacomo to eat bonbons, nor M. Mérinay to relate to the little Lobster, who did not listen, a chapter from Ancient History. At eight o’clock, Maroula laid the cloth for supper. Photini had Dimitri on her left, I sat at her right. She talked but little and ate nothing. At dessert, when the servant spoke of taking her home, she made a great effort and said to me in a low tone:

“Is M. Harris married?”

I took a wicked pleasure in embarrassing her a little, so I replied:

“Yes, Mademoiselle; he married the widow of the Doges of Venice.”

“Is it possible; how old is she?”

“She is as old as the world, and as everlasting.”

“Do not mock me; I am a poor, foolish girl, and I do not understand your European pleasantries.”

“In other words, Mademoiselle, he is wedded to the sea; it is he who commands the American boat, ‘The Fancy,’ stationed here.”

She thanked me with such a flash of radiant joy passing over her face, that her ugliness was eclipsed, and I thought she looked absolutely pretty.

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