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Chapter 3 Mary-ann
The studies of my youth have developed in me one passion, to the exclusion of all others; the desire to know; or if you like the term better, call it curiosity. From the day when I embarked for Athens, my only pleasure was to learn; my only grief, ignorance. I loved science ardently, and no one, as yet, had disputed her claim in my heart. I must confess that I had little tenderness and that poetry and Hermann Schultz rarely entered the same door. I went about the world, as in a vast museum, magnifying glass in hand. I observed the pleasures and sufferings of others as emotions worthy of study, but unworthy of envy or pity. I was no more jealous of a happy household, than of two palm trees with branches interlaced by the wind; I had just as much compassion for a heart torn by love, as I had for a geranium ruined by the frost. When one has practiced vivisection, one is no longer sensitive to the quivering of the flesh. I would have been a good spectator at a combat of gladiators. Photini’s love for Harris would have aroused pity in any heart but a naturalist’s . The poor creature “loved at random,” to quote a beautiful saying of Henry IV; and it was evident that she loved hopelessly. She was too timid to display her affection, and John was too indifferent to divine it. Even if he had noticed anything, what hope was there that he would feel any interest in an ugly Greek girl? Photini passed four days with us; the four Sundays of April. She looked at Harris from morning to night, with loving but despairing eyes; but she never found the courage to open her mouth in his presence. Harris whistled tranquilly, Dimitri growled like a young bull-dog, and I smilingly looked on at this strange malady, from which my constitution had preserved me.

In the meantime, my father had written me that his affairs were not going well; that travelers were scarce; that food was dear; that our neighbors were about to emigrate; and that, if I had found a Russian princess, I had better marry her without delay. I replied that I had not, as yet, found one, unless it was the daughter of a poor Greek Colonel; that she was seriously in love, not with me, but with another; that I could by paying her a little attention become her confidant, but that I should never become her husband. Moreover, my health was good and my herbarium magnificent. My researches, hitherto restricted to the suburbs of Athens, would now become more extended. Safety was assured, the brigands had been beaten by the soldiers, and all the journals announced the dispersion of Hadgi-Stavros’ band. A month or two later, I should be able to set out for Germany, and find a place which would pay enough to support the whole family.

We had read on Sunday the 28th of April, in the Siècle of Athens, of the complete defeat of “The King of the Mountains.” The official reports stated that he had twenty men wounded, his camp burned, his band dispersed, and that the troops had pursued him as far as the marshes near Marathon. These reports, very agreeable to all strangers, did not appear to give much pleasure to the Greeks, and especially to our host and hostess. Christodule, for a lieutenant of troops, showed lack of enthusiasm, and Colonel Jean’s daughter wept when the story of the brigand’s defeat was read. Harris, who had brought in the paper, could not conceal his joy. As for me, I could roam about the country now, and I was enchanted. On the morning of the 30th, I set out with my box and my walking stick. Dimitri had awakened me at four o’clock. He was going to take orders from an English family, who had been staying for some days at the Hotel des Etrangers.

I walked down the Rue d’Hèrmes to the Square, Belle-Gréce, and passed through the Rue d’Eole. Passing before the Place des Canons, I saluted the small artillery of the kingdom, who slept under a shed, dreaming of the taking of Constantinople; and with four strides I was in the Rue de Patissia. The honey-flowers, which bordered either side, had begun to open their odorous blossoms. The sky, of a deep blue, whitened imperceptibly between Hymettus and Pentelicus. Before me, on the horizon, the summit of Parnassus rose like broken turrets; there was the end of my journey. I descended a path which traversed the grounds of the Countess Janthe Théotoki, occupied by the French Legation; I passed through the gardens belonging to Prince Michael Soutzo, and the School of Plato, which a President of the Areopagus had put up in a lottery some years before, and I entered the olive groves. The morning thrushes and their cousins-germain, the black-birds, flew from tree to tree, and sang joyously above my head. At the end of the wood, I traversed the immense green fields where Attic horses, short and squat, like those in the frieze at the Parthenon, consoled themselves for the dry fodder and the heating food of winter. Flocks of turtle-doves flew away at my approach, and the tufted larks mounted vertically in the sky like rockets. Once in a while, an indolent tortoise crawled across the path, dragging his house. I turned him over on his back and left him to attend to his own affairs. After two hours’ walking, I entered a barren waste. Cultivation ceased; one saw upon the arid soil tufts of sickly grass, the Star of Bethlehem, or Daffodils. The sun lifted itself above the horizon, and I distinctly saw the fir-trees which grew on the side of Parnassus. The path which I had taken was not a sure guide, but I directed my steps to a group of scattered houses on the mountain side, and which was called the village of Castia.

I leaped the Céphise Eleusinien to the great scandal of the little tortoises who leaped like frogs into the water. A hundred steps further on, the path was lost in a deep and wide ravine, worn by the storms of two or three thousand winters. I supposed, reasonably enough, that the ravine ought to be the right road. I had noticed, in my former excursions, that the Greeks did not trouble themselves with making roads where streams were liable to change them. In this country, where man does not oppose the works of nature, torrents are royal roads; brooks, are department routes; rivulets, are parish-roads. Tempests are the road-constructors, and rain is the surveyor of wide and narrow paths. I entered the ravine and walked between two river banks, which hid the plain from me. But the path had so many turns, that I should not have known in which direction I was walking, if I had not kept my back to Parnassus. The wisest course would have been to climb one bank or the other and ascertain my bearings; but the sides were perpendicular, I was weary, I was hungry; and I found the shade refreshing. I seated myself upon a bowlder of marble, I took from my box a piece of bread, some cold lamb, and a gourd of wine. I said to myself: “If I am on the right road, some one will pass and I can find out where I am.”

In fact, just as I had finished lunching, and was about to stretch myself out for the rest which follows the meal of travelers or serpents, I thought I heard a horse’s step. I laid my ear to the ground and heard two or three horses coming up the ravine. I buckled my box on my back, and made ready to follow them, in case they were going towards Parnassus. Five minutes afterward, I saw coming toward me, two ladies mounted upon livery-horses, and equipped like Englishwomen on a journey. Behind them was a pedestrian, whom I had no trouble in recognizing; it was Dimitri.

You who know the world a little, you have noticed that a traveler starts out without much care for his personal appearance; but if he is about to meet ladies, though they be as old as the Dove of the Ark, he loses, at once, his indifference and looks at his dusty and travel-stained garments with a troubled eye. Before even being able to distinguish the faces of the two riders, behind their blue veils, I had looked myself over, and I was sufficiently satisfied. I wore these garments which I have on, and which are even now presentable, although that was two years ago. I have never changed the fashion of my hair; a cap, although as fine and handsome a one as this, would not have protected a traveler from the sun. I wore, instead, a large gray felt hat, which the dust could not hurt.

I took it off politely as the ladies passed me. My salutation did not appear to trouble them much. I held out my hand to Dimitri, and he told me in a few words, all that I wished to know.

“Am I upon the road to Parnassus?”

“Yes, we are going there.”

“I can go with you, then?”

“Why not?”

“Who are these ladies?”

“English! Milord is resting at the hotel.”

“What kind of people are they?”

“Peugh! London bankers. The old lady is Mrs. Simons, of the firm of Barley and Co.; Milord is her brother; the young lady is her daughter.”

“Pretty?”

“According to taste; I like Photini’s looks better.”

“Are you going as far as the fortress?”

“Yes. I am engaged for a week, at ten francs a day and board. I organize and arrange their trips. I began with this one because I knew that I should meet you. But what is the matter with them now?”

The elder woman, annoyed because I was detaining her servant, had put her horse to a trot, in a passage where no one had ever dared to trot before. The other animal, filled with emulation, began to take the same gait, and if we had talked a few minutes longer, we would have been distanced. Dimitri hastened to rejoin the ladies, and I heard Mrs. Simons say to him, in English:

“Do not go away from us. I am English, and I wish to be well served. I do not pay you to chat with your friends. Who is this Greek with whom you are talking?”

“He is a German, Madame.”

“Ah!—What is he doing?”

“He is searching for plants.”

“He is an apothecary, then?”

“No, Madame! he is a scholar.”

“Ah!—Does he know English?”

“Yes, Madame, very well.”

“Ah!——”

The three “ahs!” were said in three different tones which I noticed as I would three notes of music. They indicated by very noticeable shades the progress which I had made in her esteem. She, however, addressed no word to me, and I followed them a few feet distant. Dimitri dared not speak to me; he walked ahead like a prisoner of war. All that he could do was to cast two or three looks in my direction, which seemed to say: “But these English are impertinent!” Miss Simons did not turn her head, and I was unable to decide in what her ugliness differed from Photini’s . All that I could judge was, that the young English girl was large and marvelously well-formed. Her shoulders were broad, her waist was round, and supple as a reed. The little that one could see of her neck, made one think of the swans in the Zoological Gardens.

Her mother turned her head to speak to her, and I hastened forward, in hope of hearing her voice. Did I not tell you that I was extremely curious? I came up with them just in time to hear the following conversation:

“Mary-Ann!”

“Mamma!”

“I am hungry.”

“Are you?”

“I am.”

“Mamma, I am warm.”

“Are you?”

“I am.”

You believe that this truly English dialogue made me smile? Not at all, Monsieur; I was under a spell. Mary-Ann’s voice had worked a charm; the truth is that as I listened, I experienced a delicious agony, and found my heart beating almost to suffocation. In all my life, I had never heard anything so young, so fresh, so silvery as that voice. The sound of a golden shower falling on my father’s roof would have, truly, sounded less sweet to me. I thought to myself: “What a misfortune that the sweetest songsters among birds are necessarily the ugliest.” And I feared to see her face, and yet I was consumed with eager desire to look upon it, such a strong empire has curiosity over me.

Dimitri had calculated upon reaching the inn at Calyvia at breakfast time. It was a house made of planks, loosely put together; but one could always find there a goat-skin bottle of resin wine; a bottle of rhaki; that is to say, of anise-seed cordial; some brown bread; eggs; and a regiment of venerable hens transformed by death into pullets, by virtue of metempsychosis. Unfortunately, the inn was deserted and the door closed. At this news, Mrs. Simons had a bitter quarrel with Dimitri, and as she turned around, I saw a face as sharp as the blade of a Sheffield knife, with two rows of teeth like a palisade. “I am English,” she said, “and I expect to eat when I am hungry.”

“Madame,” Dimitri piteously replied, “you can breakfast, in half-an-hour, in the village of Castia.”

I had breakfasted, and I was free to abandon myself to melancholy reflections upon Mrs. Simons’ ugliness, and I murmured under my breath an aphorism in Fraugman’s Latin Grammar: “Qualis mater, talis filia!”

From the inn to the village, the road was particularly detestable. It was a narrow path, between a perpendicular rock and a precipice, which made even the chamois dizzy. Mrs. Simons, before starting out on this dangerous path, where the horses could scarcely find foot-hold, asked if there was no other way. “I am English,” she said, “and I was not made to roll down precipices.” Dimitri began to praise the path; he assured her that there were others a hundred times worse in the kingdom. “At least,” said the good lady, “take hold of the bridle. But who will lead my daughter? Go and lead my daughter’s horse. Still, I must not break my own neck. Can you not lead both horses? This path is, truly, horrible. I believe that it is good enough for the Greeks, but it was not made for the English. Is it not so?” she added, turning graciously to me.

I was introduced. Regularly or not, the presentation was made. It happened under the auspices of a personage well-known in the romances of the Middle Ages, whom the poets of the XIVth century called, Danger. I bowed with all the elegance of which I was master, and replied in English:

“Madame, the path is not as bad as it appears at first sight. Your horses are sure-footed; I know them, as I have ridden them. You may have two guides, if you will permit me to lead Mademoiselle, while Dimitri leads you.”

As quickly done as said; without waiting for an answer, I boldly advanced and took the bridle of Mary-Ann’s horse, and as her blue veil blew back, I saw the most adorable face which has ever enchanted the sight of a German naturalist.

An eccentric poet, Aurelian Scholl, pretends that every man has in his heart a mass of eggs, in each one of which is a love. All that is needed to give life is a glance from a woman’s eye. I am too much of a scholar to be ignorant of the fact that this hypothesis does not rest on sure foundations, and that it is in formal contradiction to all the revealed facts of anatomy. I ought to state, however, that Miss Simons’ first glance caused a very acute agitation in the region of my heart I experienced a sensation entirely unusual, and which bore no trace of sadness, and it seemed to me that something gave way in the osseous formation of my breast, below the bone called, sternum. At the same instant, the blood surged through my veins, and the arteries in my temples beat with such force that I could count the pulsations.

What eyes she had! I hope, for your peace of mind, that you will never meet a pair like them. They were not of unusual size, and they did not draw attention from the rest of her face. They were neither blue nor black, but of a color especially their own. It was a warm and velvety brown, which one sees only in Siberian garnets, and in certain garden flowers. I could show you a certain scabieuse, and a variety of holly-hock, nearly black, which resembles the marvelous shade of her eyes. If you have ever visited a forge at midnight, you have, doubtless, remarked the strange color which gleams from a red-hot steel plate, as it changes to a reddish brown; that too, was like her eyes. As for the charm in them, any comparison is useless. Charm is a gift with which few individuals are endowed. Mary-Ann’s eyes possessed something naive and spiritual; a frank vivacity; sparkling with youth and health, and sometimes a touching languor. One read in them as in a book the knowledge of a woman and the innocence of a child; but it would have blinded one to have read the book for a long time. Her glance burned like fire, as truly as I call myself, Hermann. It would have ripened the peaches on your garden wall.

Words fail when I think that that poor simpleton, Dimitri, found her less beautiful than Photini. In truth, love is a malady which singularly stupefies its victims; I, who had never lost the use of my reason, and who judged everything with the wise indifference of a naturalist, I confess to you, that the world never held as incomparable a woman as Mary-Ann. I would like to show you her picture as it is graven in the depths of my memory. You would see what long eye-lashes she had, how the eyebrows traced a beautiful arch above her eyes, how small her mouth was, how white her teeth, how rosy and transparent her little ear. I studied her beauty in the minutest details, because I possess an analytical mind and have formed habits of observation. One thing struck me especially, it was the fineness and transparency of her skin; it was more delicate than the velvety covering which envelops beautiful fruits. The color of her cheeks seemed made of that impalpable dust which adorns the wings of the butterflies. If I had not been a Doctor of Natural Sciences, I would have feared that the contact of her veil would brush off some of the luster of her beauty. I do not know whether you like pale women, or not, and I do not wish to hurt your feelings, if by chance, you have a taste for that kind of deathly looking women who have been the rage, during certain periods; but in my quality of savant, I can admire nothing without health, that joy of life. If I had become a doctor, I would have been a safe man to allow in any family, because it is certain that I should never have fallen in love with any of my patients. The sight of a pretty face, healthy and vivacious, gives me nearly as much pleasure as finding a vigorous beautiful bush, whose flowers open widely in the sunshine, and whose leaves have never been touched by butterfly or cockchafer. So that the first time that I saw Mary-Ann’s face, I experienced a strong temptation to take her hand and say to her: “Mademoiselle, how happy you must be to have such good health.”

I have forgotten to tell you that the lines of her face were not regular, and that her profile was not that of a statue. Phidias would, perhaps, have refused to make a bust of her; but your Pradier would have begged on his knees for sittings. I must confess, at the risk of destroying your illusions, that she had a dimple in her left cheek, but none in the right; this is contrary to all laws of symmetry. Know, moreover, that her nose was neither straight nor aquiline, but purely retroussé, as French noses are. But that this rendered her less pretty, I will deny, even upon the scaffold. She was as beautiful as Greek statues are; but was entirely different. Beauty cannot be judged by one invariable type, although Plato affirms it. It varies according to times, according to peoples, and according to culture. The Venus de Milo was considered, two thousand years ago, the most beautiful woman of the Archipelago. I do not believe that, in 1856, she would have been considered the prettiest woman in Paris. Take her to a dressmaker’s in the Place Vendome, or to a milliner’s in the Rue de la Paix, and in these places she would be less of a success than some other women whose features were not so classical, and whose nose was not so straight. One could admire a woman geometrically beautiful, in the days when she was only an object of art destined to please the eyes, without appealing to the mind; a bird of Paradise at whose plumage one looks, without thinking of asking it to sing. A beautiful Athenian was as well-proportioned, as white, and as cold, as the column of a temple. M. Mérinay has shown to me, in a book, that the Ionic column is only a woman, disguised. The portico of the Temple of Erechtée, at the Acropolis at Athens, rests upon four Athenian women of the century of Pericles. The women of to-day are little, winged beings, active, busy, and above all, thoughtful; created, not to hold temples on their heads, but to awaken genius, to engage in work, to animate with courage, and to light the world with the flashes of their wit. What we love in them, and what makes their beauty, is not regularity of features; it is the lively and mobile expression of sentiments, more delicate than ours; it is the radiation of thought around that fragile envelope, which does not suffice to contain it; it is the quick play of a speaking physiognomy. I am not a sculptor, but if I knew how to use the chisel and one gave me a commission to make a statue of our epoch, I swear to you that she would have a dimple in her left cheek, and a retroussé nose.

I led Mary-Ann’s horse to the village of Castia. What she said to me on the way, and what I replied, left no more impression on my mind, than the flight of a swallow leaves on the air. Her voice was so sweet to listen to, that I probably did not listen to what she said. It was as if I were at the opera, where the music does not often permit one to hear the words. All the circumstances of that first interview made an ineffaceable impression on my mind. I have only to close my eyes to believe that I am still there. The April sun shone softly on my head. Above the path, and below, the resinous trees disseminated their aromatic odors through the air. The pines, the thugas, and the turpentine trees gave forth a harsh and acrid incense as Mary-Ann passed. She inhaled, with evident happiness, nature’s odorous largess. Her dear little nose breathed in the fragrance; her eyes, those beautiful eyes, roved from object to object with sparkling joy. Seeing her so pretty, so lively, so happy, you would have said that a dryad had escaped from its wood. I can see now, the horse she rode; it was Psari, a white horse from Zimmerman’s . Her habit was black; Mrs. Simons’, which showed distinctly against the sky, was bottle-green, sufficiently eccentric to testify to her independence of taste. She also wore a black hat, of that absurd and ungraceful shape worn by men of all countries; her daughter wore the gray felt adopted by the heroines of the Fronde. Both wore chamois gloves. Mary-Ann’s hand was not small, but admirably formed. I have never worn gloves, I do not like them. And you?

The village of Castia was as deserted as the inn at Calyvia. Dimitri could not understand why. We dismounted in front of the church, beside a fountain. Each went from house to house knocking at the doors; not a soul. No one at the priest’s , no one at the magistrate’s. The authorities of the village had moved away with the residents. Each house consisted of four walls and a roof, with two openings, one of which served as door, the other as window. Poor Dimitri forced in two or three doors, and opened five or six shutters, to assure himself that the inmates were not asleep. These incursions resulted in setting free an unfortunate cat, forgotten by its master, and which departed like a flash in the direction of the wood.

Soon, Mrs. Simons lost patience. “I am English,” she said to Dimitri, “and one does not mock me with impunity. I shall complain to the Legation. What! I hire you for a trip to the mountains, and you make me travel over precipices! I order you to bring food, and you expose me to starvation! We were to breakfast at the inn! The inn is abandoned: I had the goodness to follow you, fasting, to this frightful village; and all the inhabitants have fled. All this is unnatural. I have traveled in Switzerland: Switzerland is a country of mountains; however, nothing was lacking there! and I had trout to eat, do you hear?”

Mary-Ann tried to calm her mother, but the good woman could not and would not listen. Dimitri explained to her as fully as she would permit him, that the inhabitants of the village were nearly all charcoal-burners, and that their business very often took them into the mountains. In any case, the time was not lost: it was not later than eight o’clock, and they were sure to find within ten minutes’ walk an inhabited house where breakfast would be all prepared.

“What house?” demanded Mrs. Simons.

“The farm at the Convent. The monks from Pentelicus have broad lands above Castia. They raise bees there. The good old man who carries on the farm always has wine, bread, honey and fowls; he will give us our breakfast.”

“He may have gone away like everyone else.”

“If he is away, it will not be far. The time for the swarming is near, and he would not wish to lose his bees.”

“Go and see: as for me, I have gone far enough since morning. I vow to you that I will not remount until after I have eaten.”

“Madame, you need not remount,” said Dimitri, patient as are all guides. “We can hitch our horses to the fountain, and we shall quickly reach the place on foot.”

Mary-Ann influenced her mother to consent. She was dying to see the good old man, and his apiary. Dimitri hitched the horses to the watering trough, weighting each bridle with a huge stone. Mrs. Simons and her daughter looped up their habits and we started up a precipitous path, fit only for the goats of Castia. The green lizards which were warming themselves in the sun, discreetly retired at our approach, but each drew a piercing cry from Mrs. Simons, who had a horror of reptiles. After a quarter of an hour of these vocalizations, she had, at last, the joy of seeing an open house and a human face. It was the farmhouse and the old man.

The house was a small one made of red bricks, topped with five cupolas, almost like a mosque to the village. At a distance, it possessed a certain elegance. Comely without and coarse within, it was a sample of the Orient. One saw, in the shelter of a hill covered with thyme, a hundred straw bee-hives, placed in a line like the tents in a camp. The king of this empire, the good old man, was a small, young man of twenty-five, round and merry. All Greek monks are honored with the title of “good old man,” age having nothing to do with it. He was dressed like a peasant, except his bonnet, which was black instead of red; it was by this sign that Dimitri recognized him.

The little man, seeing us running toward him, raised his arms to heaven, and appeared utterly amazed. “Here is an original,” Mrs. Simons exclaimed; “what astonishes him so much? One would say that he had never seen any English people before.”

Dimitri, who had run on ahead, kissed the monk’s hand, and said to him with a curious mixture of respect and familiarity:

“Thy blessing, father! Wring the necks of two chickens, we will pay thee well.”

“Unhappy man: why do you come here?”

“To breakfast.”

“Didst thou not see that the inn was deserted?”

“I saw it so well, that I found no one at home.”

“And that the village was deserted?”

“If I had met anyone, I should not have climbed up to thy house.”

“Thou art then in accord with them?”

“Them? With whom?”

“The brigands.”

“Are there brigands on Parnassus?”

“Since day before yesterday.”

“Where are they?”

“Everywhere!”

Dimitri turned quickly toward us and said: “We have not a moment to lose. The brigands are in the mountains. Let us run for our horses. Have courage, Mesdames; and step out lively, if you please.”

“This is too hard,” cried Mrs. Simons. “Without having breakfasted!”

“Madame, your breakfast would cost you dear! Let us hasten, for the love of God!”

“Is this a conspiracy? You have sworn to make me die of hunger! Behold the brigands! As if there were brigands! I do not believe in brigands! All the papers state that they are disbanded! Moreover, I am English, and if anyone touched a hair of my head——!”

Mary-Ann was less confident. She leaned on my arm and asked me if I thought that we were in danger of death.

“Of death? No. Of being robbed? Yes.”

“Of what importance is that? They are welcome to take all that I carry, if only they will give me my breakfast.”

I learned later that the poor woman was subject to a rare malady which the vulgar call canine appetite, and our learned men know as boulime. When hunger assailed her, she would have given her fortune for a plate of lentils.

Dimitri and Mary-Ann each seized a hand and dragged her to the path we had just ascended. The little monk followed her, gesticulating. I was strongly tempted to push forward; but a quick and imperative tone stopped us suddenly.

“Halt! I say!”

I raised my eyes. Two mastic bushes and arbutus-trees were on the right and left of the path. From each bush the muzzles of three or four guns protruded. A voice cried in Greek: “Seat yourselves on the ground!” This operation was exceedingly easy for me, as my knees weakened under me. But I consoled myself with the thought that Ajax, Agamemnon, and the hot-headed Achilles, if they found themselves in a like position, would not have refused the seat offered them.

The guns were lowered toward us. I expected to see them pushed out so far that their muzzles would touch each other over our heads. It was not that I was afraid; but I had never before realized the extraordinary length of Greek guns. The whole arsenal marched out into the path, showing the owner of each.

The only difference which exists between devils and brigands, is that devils are less black than one expects, and brigands more squalid than one supposes. The eight scoundrels who surrounded us were so foul, that I would have preferred to give them my money with pinchers. One could imagine that their bonnets might once have been red; but lye itself could never have found the original shade of their coats. All the rocks of the kingdom had contributed to the color of their percale skirts, and their vests bore a specimen of the different soils upon which they had reposed. Their hands, their faces, and even their mustaches were of a reddish gray like the dirt which they had on their clothes. Every animal colors itself like the house or land it inhabits: the foxes of Greenland are like the snow; lions, the color of the desert; partridges, like the ground; the Greek brigands, the color of the paths.

The chief of the little band who had taken us prisoners, was not distinguished by outward sign. Possibly his face, his hands, his clothes, were richer in dirt than those of his comrades. He bent over us from his great height, and examined us so closely, that I almost felt the touch of his gray mustache. You would have thought him a tiger who smelled his prey before devouring it. When his curiosity was satisfied, he said to Dimitri: “Empty thy pockets!” Dimitri did not make him repeat it the second time. He threw down, at his feet, a knife, a bag of tobacco, and three Mexican piastres, which made a sum of sixteen francs.

“Is that all?” demanded the brigand.

“Yes, brother.”

“Thou art the servant?”

“Yes, brother.”

“Take one piastre. Thou must not return to the city without money.”

Dimitri began to haggle. “Thou mightest leave me two. I have two horses below; they are hired from the stable; I will have to pay for the day.”

“Thou canst explain to Zimmerman that we have taken thy money.”

“And if he insists on being paid even then?”

“Tell him that he is only too happy in seeing his horses again.”

“He knows very well that you would not take the horses. What would you do with them in the mountains?”

“Enough! Tell me who is this tall, thin man behind thee?”

I answered for myself: “An honest German whose spoils will not enrich you.”

“Thou speakest Greek; well. Empty thy pockets!”

I placed on the ground twenty francs, my tobacco, my pipe and my handkerchief.

“What is that?”

“A handkerchief.”

“What for?”

“To wipe my nose.”

“Why didst thou tell me that thou wert poor? Only lords wipe their noses with handkerchiefs. Take off the box which thou carriest on thy back. That is well! Now open it.”

My box contained some plants, a book, a knife, a small packet of arsenic, an almost empty gourd of wine, and the remains of my breakfast which brought a gleam of covetousness to Mrs. Simons’ eyes. I had the impudence to offer them to her before my property changed hands. She snatched them greedily and began to devour the bread and meat. To my great astonishment, this gluttonous act disgusted the thieves, who murmured among themselves the word heretic! The monk made a half-dozen signs of the cross, according to the rite of the Greek church.

“Thou probably hast a watch,” said the brigand to me, “put it with the other things.”

I took off my silver watch, an heirloom, which weighed about four ounces. The rascals passed it from hand to hand and found it very beautiful. I hoped that admiration, which softens men’s feelings, would dispose them to restore to me something of my belongings, and I begged the Chief to give me my tin box. He rudely told me to keep silent. “At least,” I persisted, “give back my two écus so that I can return to the city.” He replied with a sardonic grin: “Thou wilt have no use for them.”

Mrs. Simons’ turn had come. Before putting her hand into her pocket, she addressed our captors in the tongue of her fathers. English is one of the rare languages which one can speak with one’s mouth full. “Reflect well upon what you are doing,” she said in a menacing tone. “I am an Englishwoman, and English subjects are sacred in every country in the world. What you take from me will serve you little, and cost you dear. England will avenge me, and you will be hung, at the very least. Now, if you wish my money, you have only to speak; but it will burn your fingers; it is English money!”

“What does she say?” asked the leader of the brigands.

Dimitri answered: “She says she is English.”

“So much the better; all the English are rich. Tell her to shell out!”

The poor woman emptied her pocket; her purse contained a dozen sovereigns. As her watch was not in sight, and as they did not search us, she kept that. The kindness of these thieves left her her handkerchief.

Mary-Ann threw down her watch and a string of charms against the evil eye. She took off, with mutinous grace, a shagreen-leather bag, which she wore slung on her shoulder. The bandit opened it with all the importance of a custom-house officer. He took out an English dressing-case, a bottle of English smelling-salts, a box of English Menthol pastilles and a hundred and several odd francs of English money.

“Now,” said the enraged beauty, “you can let us go; we have nothing more for you.”

One of the men indicated to her by a menacing gesture, that the interview was not yet over. The leader of the band knelt down before their spoils, called the monk, counted the money in his presence and gave to him a sum of forty-five francs. Mrs. Simons nudged me. “Do you see?” she whispered; “the monk and Dimitri have betrayed us into their hands; the bandits have divided with them!”

“No, Madame,” I replied, “Dimitri has received only a fraction of what was taken from him. It is customary everywhere. On the borders of the Rhine, when a traveler is ruined at roulette, the banker gives him enough to return home.”

“But the monk?”

“He has only received the tithe of the spoils, according to custom from time immemorial. Do not reproach him, but rather be grateful to him in his wish to save us, when his convent would have benefited by our capture.”

This conversation was interrupted by Dimitri’s departure. They had told him that he was free. “Wait for me,” I said to him, “we will return together.” He sadly shook his head and answered in English, so that the ladies could understand:

“You are prisoners for a time, and you will not see Athens again until you have paid a ransom. I am going to inform milord. Have the ladies any message to send to him?”

“Tell him,” cried Mrs. Simons, “that he must hurry to the Ambassador, that he must go to Piraeus to find the Admiral, that he must complain at the Foreign Office, and he must surely write to Lord Palmerston! That we must be rescued from here by force of arms, if necessary, or by political authority; but that I will not hear of paying one penny for my liberty.”

“And I,” I said with less anger, “I pray thee to tell my friends in whose hands thou hast left me. If it is necessary to have a few hundred drachmas to ransom a poor devil of a naturalist, they will furnish them without doubt. The lords of the road will not put a very high price on me. I wish whilst thou art still here, that thou wouldst ask them the price.”

“Useless, my dear M. Hermann, they do not fix the ransom.”

“Who, then?”

“Their chief, Hadgi-Stavros.”
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