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Chapter 7 John Harris
The King contemplated his vengeance, as a man who has fasted three days contemplates a bountiful repast. He examined, one by one, all the dishes, I mean to say all the tortures; he licked his dry lips, but he knew not where to commence nor what to choose. One would have said that excess of hunger spoiled his appetite. He struck his head with his fist, as if he could force out some ideas, but they came so rapidly that it was not easy to seize one in its passage. “Speak!” he cried to his subjects. “Advise me! What good are you, if you are not able to give me advice? Shall I await the coming of the Corfuan, or until Vasile shall speak from the depths of his tomb? Find for me, beasts that you are, some torture for the loss of 80,000 francs.”

The young pipe-bearer said to his master: “An idea strikes me. Thou hast one officer dead, another absent, and a third wounded. Put up their places for competition. Promise us that those who shall tell of the best way to avenge thee, shall succeed Sophocles, the Corfuan, and Vasile.”

Hadgi-Stavros smiled complacently at this stratagem. He stroked the young boy’s chin and said to him:

“Thou art ambitious, my little man! All in good time! Ambition is the result of courage. Agreed, for a competition! It is a modern idea, a European idea, that pleases me. To reward thee, thou shalt give thy advice, first; and if thou findest something very good, Vasile shall have no other heir but thee.”

“I would,” said the child, “pull out some of my lord’s teeth, put a bit in his mouth, and make him run, bridled, till he dropped from fatigue.”

“His feet are too sore; he would fall down at the first step. And you others? Tambouris, Moustakas, Coltzida, Milotia, speak, I am listening.”

“I,” said Coltzida, “I would break boiling hot eggs under his arm-pits. I tried it on a woman of Magara, and I had much fun.”

“I,” said Tambouris, “I would put him on the ground with a rock weighing five hundred pounds on his chest. It thrusts out one’s tongue and makes one spit blood; it is fine!”

“I,” said Milotia, “I would put vinegar in his nostrils, and drive thorns under every nail. One sneezes violently and one does not know what to do with one’s hands.”

Moustakas was one of the cooks of the band. He proposed to cook me in front of a small fire. The King’s face expanded.

The monk assisted at the conference, and let them talk without giving his advice. He, however, took pity on me, according to the measure of his sensibility, and helped me as far as his intelligence permitted. “Moustakas,” he said, “is too wicked. One can torture milord finely without burning him alive. If you will give him salt meat without allowing him to drink he will live a long time, he will suffer a great deal, and the King will satisfy his vengeance without interfering with God’s vengeance. It is my disinterested advice which I give you; I shall make nothing by it; but I wish everyone to be pleased, since the monastery has received its tithe.”

“Halt, there!” interrupted the coffee-bearer. “Good old man, I have an idea which is better than thine. I condemn milord to die of hunger. The others will do any evil to him which pleases them; I will not hinder them. But I would place a sentinel before his mouth, and I would take care that he had neither a drop of water nor a crumb of bread. Weakness would redouble his hunger; his wounds would increase his thirst, and the tortures of the others would finally finish him to my profit. What dost thou say, Sire? Is it not well reasoned and will it not give me Vasile’s place?”

“Go to the devil, all of you!” cried the King. “You would reason less calmly if the wretch had plundered you of 80,000 francs! Carry him away to the camp and take your pleasure out of him. But unhappy the one who kills him by any imprudence! This man must die only by my hand. I intend that he shall reimburse me, in pleasure, for all that he has taken from me in money. He shall shed his blood drop by drop, as a bad debtor who pays sou by sou.”

You would not believe, Monsieur, with what struggles the most wretched man will cling to life. Truly, I longed to die; and the happiest thing which could happen to me would be to end it all with one blow. Something, however, rejoiced me at Hadgi-Stavros’ threat. I blessed the extension of my time. Hope sprang up in my heart. If a charitable friend had offered to blow out my brains I would have looked twice at him.

Four brigands took me by the shoulders and legs and carried me, a shrieking mass, to the King’s cabinet. My voice awakened Sophocles on his pallet. He called his companions and made them tell him the news, and asked to look at me closely. It was the caprice of a sick person. They threw me down by his side.

“Milord,” he said to me, “we are both very weak, but the odds are that I shall get well sooner than you do. It appears that they are already talking of my successor. How unjust men are! My place is up for competition. Oh, well! I wish to compete and to put myself in the race. You will bear witness in my favor and your groans will testify that Sophocles is not yet dead. You shall be bound, and I take upon myself the pleasure of tormenting you with one hand, as spiritedly as the strongest of the band.”

In order to please the unfortunate fellow they bound me. He turned over towards me and began to pull out hairs, one by one, with the patience and the regularity of a professional hair remover. When I saw what this new punishment was to be, I believed that the wounded man, touched by my misery, and sympathizing with me because of his own sufferings, wished to shield me from his comrades, and give me an hour’s respite. The extraction of one hair is not so painful, by a good deal, as the prick of a pin. The first twenty came out, one after the other, without any discomfiture. But soon I changed my tune. The scalp, irritated by a multitude of imperceptible lesions, became inflamed. A dull itching began on my head; it became a little livelier; and at last it was intolerable. I would like to have raised my hands to my head; I understood with what intuition the wretch had had me bound. Impatience but aggravated the trouble; all the blood in my body rushed to my head. Every time Sophocles approached his hand to my scalp, a woful shivering seized my whole body. A thousand inexplicable stingings tormented my arms and legs. The nervous system, irritated at every point, enveloped me in a network more exasperating than Dejanire’s tunic. I rolled over on the ground, I groaned, I cried for mercy, I regretted the bastinado. The executioner had pity on me only when he had completely exhausted himself. When he felt his eyes become dim, his head heavy, and his arm weary, he made a last effort, plunged his hand into my hair, seized a fist full, and fell over on his pallet, drawing from me a despairing cry.

“Come with me,” said Moustakas. “Thou shalt decide, in a corner by the fire, if I can compete with Sophocles, and whether I merit a lieutenancy.”

He raised me like a feather and carried me to the camp, in front of a heap of resinous wood and piled up brushwood. He took off the bonds, he stripped me of my clothes, leaving me only my trousers. “Thou shalt be my under-cook,” he said. “We will make the fire and we will prepare the King’s dinner, together.”

He lighted the stack of wood and laid me out on my back, about two feet from the mountain of flames. The wood crackled, the red cinders fell like hail around me. The heat became unbearable. I hitched along with my hands a little distance, but he came with a frying-pan in his hand, and pushed me back with his foot to the place where he had first laid me.

“Look well, and profit by my lessons. Here are the heart, liver, and kidneys from three sheep; there is enough to feed twenty men. The King will choose the most delicate morsels; he will distribute the remainder to his men. Thou wilt have none of it for the present, and if thou tastest my cooking, it will be with the eyes only.”

I soon heard the bubbling in the sauce pan, and it reminded me that I had been fasting since the evening before. My hunger added one more torment. Moustakas held the pan under my eyes and made me look at the appetizing color of the meat. He thrust it under my nose and I smelled the steam of the food. Suddenly he perceived that he had forgotten the seasoning, and he hurried away to find the salt and pepper, leaving the sauce pan to my care. The first idea which came to me was to steal a piece of the meat, but the brigands were only ten feet away; they would stop me at once. “If I only had my package of arsenic,” I thought. What could I have done with it? I had not put it back in my box. I thrust my hands into my pockets. I drew out a soiled paper and a handful of that beneficent powder, which would save me, perhaps, or at least avenge me.

Moustakas returned at the instant when I was holding my open hand above the sauce pan. He seized me by the arm, looked me straight in the eye, and said in a menacing tone: “I know what thou hast done.”

I dropped my arm discouraged. The cook added:

“Yes, thou hast thrown something over the King’s dinner.”

“What?”

“A spell. But no matter. Believe me, my poor milord, Hadgi-Stavros is a greater sorcerer than thou art. I am going to serve his dinner. I will have my part of it, but thou shalt not taste it.”

“Great good may it do thee!”

He left me before the fire, placing me in the care of a dozen brigands who were crunching black bread and bitter olives. These Spartans kept me company for an hour or two. They attended to my fire with the watchfulness of sick nurses. If, at times, I attempted to drag myself a little further away from my torture they cried out: “Take care, thou wilt freeze!” And they pushed me toward the flames with heavy blows of the burning brushwood. My back was covered with red spots, my skin was raised in blisters, my eye-lashes had succumbed to the heat of the fire, my hair exhaled an odor of burning horn, and yet I rubbed my hands in glee at the thought of the King eating my cooking and that something startling would happen upon Parnassus before night.

Very soon Hadgi-Stavros’ men re-appeared in the camp, stomachs filled, eyes shining, faces smiling. “Go on!” I thought, “your joy and your health will soon fall like a mask, and you will curse each mouthful of the feast which I seasoned for you!” The celebrated poisoner, Locuste, must have passed some very pleasant moments during her life. When one has reason to hate men, it is pleasure enough to see a vigorous being who goes, who comes, who laughs, who sings, while carrying in his intestines a seed of death which will spring up and devour him. It is a little like the same joy a good doctor experiences at the sight of a dying man whom he is able to bring back to life. Locuste used medicine inversely, as I did.

My malevolent reflections were interrupted by a singular tumult. The dogs barked in chorus, and a messenger, out of breath, appeared on the plateau with the whole pack at his heels. It was Dimitri, the son of Christodule. Some stones thrown by the bandits freed him from his escort. He shouted at the top of his lungs: “The King! I must speak to the King!” When he was about twenty steps from us, I called to him in a doleful tone. He was terrified at the state in which he found me, and he cried out: “The fools! Poor girl!”

“My good Dimitri!” I said to him, “where dost thou come from? Will my ransom be paid?”

“The ransom is well at stake, but fear nothing, I bring good news. Good for you, bad for me, for him, for her, for everybody! I must see Hadgi-Stavros. There is not a moment to lose. Until I come back, suffer no one to do you any harm; she would die for it! You hear, you wretches; do not touch milord. For your life. The King would cut you in pieces. Conduct me to the King!”

The world is such that a man who speaks as a master is almost sure of being obeyed. There was so much authority in the voice of this servant, and his passion expressed itself in a tone so imperious that my guards, astonished and stupefied, forgot to keep me near the fire. I crept some distance away, and deliciously reposed upon the cold rock, until Hadgi-Stavros’ arrival. He appeared not less agitated than Dimitri. He took me in his arms like a sick child, and carried me, without stopping, to that fatal chamber where Vasile was buried. He laid me on his own carpet with maternal solicitude; he stepped back and looked at me with a curious mixture of hate and pity. He said to Dimitri: “My child, this is the first time that I have left such a crime unpunished. He killed Vasile, that was nothing. He would have assassinated me, I pardoned him. But he robbed me, the scamp! Eighty thousand francs less in Photini’s dowry! I sought for a punishment equal to his crime. Oh, rest easy! I should have found it. Unhappy that I am! Why did I not restrain my anger? I have treated him harshly. And she will bear the penalty. If she receives two blows of the stick upon her little feet I shall never see her again. Men do not die of it, but a woman, a child of fifteen!”

He cleared the place of all the men who were crowding around us. He gently unwound the bloody bandages which enveloped my wounds. He sent his pipe-bearer for the balm of Ludgi-Bey. He seated himself on the damp grass in front of me, he took my feet in his hands and looked at the wounds. An almost incredible thing to tell! There were tears in his eyes!

“Poor child!” he said, “you have suffered cruelly. Pardon me. I am an old brute, a wolf of the mountain, a Palikar. I was trained in ferocity from twenty years of age. But you see that my heart is good, since I regret what I have done. I am more unhappy than you, because your eyes are dry and I weep. I shall set you at liberty without a moment’s delay, or rather, no, you cannot go away thus. I will cure you first. The balm is a sovereign remedy. I will care for you as for a son. Health shall return quickly. You must be able to walk to-morrow. She must not remain a day longer in your friend’s hands. In the name of Heaven tell no one of our quarrel to-day! You know that I do not hate you! I have said so often. I sympathized with you and I gave you my confidence. I told you my most sacred secrets. Do you not remember that we were friends until Vasile’s death? An instant’s anger must not make you forget twelve days of good treatment. You would not wish to break a father’s heart. You are an honest young man; your friend ought to be good like you.”

“But who, then?”

“Who? That cursed Harris! that devilish American! that execrable pirate! that kidnapper of children! that assassin of young girls! that wretch whom I wish I held with you so that I could crush you in my hands, grind you together, and scatter your dust to the winds of my mountains! You are all the same, Europeans, a race of traitors, who dare not attack men, and who have courage to fight only against children. Read what he has written me and tell me if there are tortures cruel enough to chastise a crime like his!”

He savagely hurled a crumpled letter at me. I instantly recognized the writing, and I read:

“Sunday, May 11, on board The Fancy, Bay of Salamis.

“Hadgi-Stavros:

“Photini is on board under guard of four American cannons. I shall hold her as hostage as long as Hermann Schultz is prisoner. As thou treatest my friend, so shall I treat thy daughter. She shall pay hair for hair, tooth for tooth, head for head. Reply to me without delay, otherwise I shall come to see thee!

“John Harris.”

On reading this letter I could not restrain my joy. “The good Harris!” I shouted, “I who accused him! But explain, Dimitri, why he has not rescued me sooner?”

“He has been away, Mr. Hermann; he was chasing pirates. He returned yesterday morning, unfortunately for us. Why did he not remain away!”

“Excellent Harris! He has not lost a single day. But where did he kidnap the daughter of this old scamp?”

“At our house, M. Hermann. You know her, Photini. You have dined more than once with her.”

The Daughter of the King of the Mountains was then that boarding-school miss with the flat nose, who sighed for John Harris.

I concluded from this that the abduction had been accomplished without violence.

The pipe-bearer now came up with a package of linen and a bottle filled with yellow pomade. The King dressed my feet with practiced touch, and I experienced within an hour a certain relief. Hadgi-Stavros was, at this moment, a fine subject for the study of psychology. He had as much brutality in his eyes as delicacy in his touch. He unwound the bandages from my instep so gently that I scarcely felt it; but his glance said: “If I could only strangle thee!” He took out the pins as adroitly as a woman; but with what pleasure would he have thrust his cangiar into me.

When he had adjusted the bandages, he stretched out his clenched fists and savagely roared:

“I am no longer a King, since I must refrain from gratifying my anger! I, who have always commanded, I obey a threat! He, who has made millions of men tremble, is afraid! They will boast of it, without doubt; they will tell the whole world of it; Oh! for the means to silence those European gossips! They will publish it in their papers, perhaps even in their novels. Why did I marry? Ought such a man to have children? I was born to fight soldiers and not to rear up little girls! Thunder is not for children; cannons are not for children. If they were, they would no longer fear the thunder-bolts and cannon-balls. This John Harris may well laugh at me! What if I should declare war against him? What if I should capture his ship by force? I have attacked many, when I was a pirate, and twenty such cannons did not trouble me. But my daughter was not on board. Dear little one! You know her then, Monsieur Hermann? Why did you not tell me that you boarded with Christodule? I would have asked no ransom; I would have released you instantly, for love of Photini. Truly, I wish that she knew your language. She will be a princess in Germany, some day or other. Is it not true that she will make a beautiful Princess? I think so! Since you know her you will forbid your friend to do her any harm. Could you have the heart to see a tear fall from those dear eyes? She has never harmed you, the poor innocent! If anyone ought to expiate your sufferings, it is I. Tell M. John Harris that you bruised your feet on the paths; you may then do me any harm you choose.”

Dimitri stopped this torrent of words. “It is very unfortunate that M. Hermann is wounded. Photini is not safe in the midst of those heretics, and I know M. Harris: he is capable of anything!”

The King scowled. Suspicions of a lover entered the father’s heart. “Be off, then,” he said to me; “I will carry you if necessary to the foot of the mountain; you can find, in some village, a horse, a carriage, a litter; I will furnish everything needed. But let him know, that from to-day, you are free, and swear to me, on the head of your mother, that you will tell no one of the injury which has been done you?”

I scarcely knew how I could endure the fatigues of the journey; but anything seemed preferable to the company of my tormentors. I feared that a new obstacle might arise before I was free. I said to the King: “Let us start! I swear to you by all I hold most sacred, that they shall not touch a hair of your daughter’s head!”

He raised me in his arms, threw me over his shoulder, and mounted the staircase to his cabinet. The entire band rushed out in front of him and barred our passage. Moustakas, livid as a man attacked with cholera, said to him: “Where art thou going? The German has thrown a spell over the food. We are suffering all the pains of hell. We are frightfully ill, through his fault, and we wish to see him die.”

My hopes were dashed to the ground. Dimitri’s arrival; John Harris’ providential interference; Hadgi-Stavros’ change of front; the humiliation of that superb head to the feet of his prisoner; so many events, crowded into a quarter of an hour, had turned my head; I had already forgotten the past, and I had rashly begun to count on the future.

At the sight of Moustakas, I remembered the poison. I felt that any moment might precipitate a fearful event. I clung to the King of the Mountains, I wound my arms around his neck, I begged him to carry me away without delay. “It will redound to thy glory,” I said to him. “Prove to these savages that thou art King! Do not reply! words are useless. Let us pass over their bodies. Thou knowest thyself what interest thou hast in saving me. Thy daughter loves John Harris; I am sure of it, she confessed it to me!”

“Wait!” he replied. “Let us pass first! we can talk later.”

He laid me carefully down on the ground, and rushed, with clenched fists, into the midst of the bandits. “You are fools!” he shouted. “The first one who touches milord will answer to me. What spell do you say he has cast? I ate with you; am I ill? Let me pass! he is an honest man; he is my friend!”

Suddenly, he changed countenance; his legs gave way under the weight of his body. He seated himself near me, leaned toward me and said with more grief than anger:

“Imprudent! Why did you not tell me that you had poisoned us?”

I seized the King’s hand; it was cold. His features were convulsed; his marble-like face became a frightful color. At this sight, my strength suddenly failed me, and I felt that I was dying. I had nothing more to hope for in the world; had I not condemned myself, in killing the only man who had any interest in saving me? My head fell on my breast, and I sat, helpless, by the side of the livid and shivering old man.

Moustakas and some of the others had, already, stretched out their hands to seize me and compel me to share their sufferings. Hadgi-Stavros had no strength to defend me. Occasionally, a terrible hiccough shook the King, as the wood-cutter’s ax shakes an oak a hundred years old. The bandits were persuaded that he was dying, and that the invincible old man was about, at last, to be conquered by death. All the ties which bound them to their chief, bonds of interest, of fear, of hope, and of gratitude, broke like the threads of a spider’s web. The Greeks are the most restive people in the world. Their inordinate and intemperate vanity was sometimes subdued, but like a steel ready to rebound. They knew how, in case of need, to lean upon the strongest, or how to modestly follow the lead of the ablest, but not how to pardon the master who had protected and enriched them. For thirty centuries or more, this nation has been composed of a people, egotistical and jealous, which only necessity has held together, which inclination separates, and which no human power could unite entirely.

Hadgi-Stavros learned to his cost that one does not command, with impunity, sixty Greeks. His authority did not survive an instant longer than his moral force or his physical vigor. Without mentioning the wounded men who shook their fists in our faces, while reproaching us for their sufferings, the able-bodied grouped themselves in front of their legitimate king, around a huge, brutal peasant, named Coltzida. He was the most garrulous and most shameless of the band, an impudent blockhead without talent and without courage; one of those who hide during action, and who carry the flag after a victory; but in like situations, fortune favors impudent braggarts. Coltzida, proud of his lungs, heaped insults, by the score, on Hadgi-Stavros, as a grave-digger heaps the earth on the grave of a dead man.

“Thou seest,” he said, “a wise man, an invincible general, an all-powerful king, and invulnerable mortal! Thou hast not deserved thy glory, and we have been far-sighted in trusting ourselves to thee! What have we gained in thy company? How hast thou served us? Thou hast given us fifty-four miserable francs a month, a beggarly pittance. Thou hast fed us on black bread and mouldy cheese which you would not touch, while thou hast accumulated a fortune and sent ships loaded with gold to foreign bankers. What benefit have we received from our victories and for all the blood which we have shed in the mountains? Nothing! thou hast kept all for thyself, spoils, personal effects, prisoners’ ransoms! It is true that thou hast left us the bayonet thrusts: it is the only profit of which thou hast not taken thy share. During the two years I have been with thee, I have received four wounds in the back, and thou hast not a scar to show! If, at least, thou hadst known how to lead us! If thou hadst chosen good opportunities, when there was little to risk and much to gain! Thou hast beaten us; thou hast been our executioner; thou hast sent us into the wolves’ jaws! Thou hast then hastened to be done with us and to retire us on a pension! Thou wert longing so much to see us all buried near Vasile that thou deliveredst us to this cursed lord, who has thrown a spell over our bravest soldiers! But do not hope to cheat us from our vengeance. I know why thou wishest to have him go away; he has paid his ransom. But what dost thou wish to do with this money? Wilt thou carry it away to a foreign country? Thou art sick, opportunely, my poor Hadgi-Stavros. Milord has not spared thee, thou art dying also, and it is well! My friends, we are our own masters. We will no longer obey anyone, we will do whatever pleases us, we will eat the best, we will drink all of the wine of Aegina, we will burn an entire forest to cook whole herds, we will pillage the kingdom! we will take Athens and we will camp in the Palace gardens! You have only to allow yourselves to be led; I know the best methods! Let us begin by throwing the old man, with his much loved lord, into the ravine; I will then tell you what is necessary to do!”

Coltzida’s eloquence came near costing us our lives, because his audience applauded. Hadgi-Stavros’ old comrades, ten or a dozen devoted Palikars, who might have come to his aid, had eaten dessert at his table: they were also writhing in agony. But a popular orator cannot elevate himself above his fellows without creating jealousies. When it became clear that Coltzida proposed to become chief of the band, Tambouris and some other ambitious ones faced about and ranged themselves on our side. To a man they liked better the man who knew how to lead them than this insolent braggart, whose incapacity repelled them. They urged that the King had not long to live, and that he would appoint his successor from among the faithful who remained around him. It was no ordinary affair. The odds were that the capitalists would more readily ratify Hadgi-Stavros’ choice, than endorse a revolutionary election. Eight or ten voices were raised in our defense. Ours, because our interests were one. I clung to the King of the Mountains, and he had one arm around my neck. Tambouris and his fellows put their heads together; a plan of defense was formed; three men profited by the uproar to run, with Dimitri, to the arsenal, to get arms and cartridges, and to lay along the path a train of powder. They came back and discreetly mixed with the crowd. They formed into two parties; insults were hurled from one to the other. Our champions, with their backs to Mary-Ann’s chamber, guarded the staircase, they made a rampart of their bodies for us, and kept the enemy in the King’s cabinet. In the scrimmage, a pistol-shot rung out. A ribbon of fire ran over the ground and the rock flew up with a fearful noise.

Coltzida and his followers, surprised by the detonation, ran to the arsenal. Tambouris lost not an instant; he raised Hadgi-Stavros, descended the staircase in two bounds, laid him in a safe place, returned, picked me up, carried, and laid me at the King’s feet. Our friends intrenched themselves in the chamber, cut trees, barricaded the staircase, and organized a defense before Coltzida could return.

Then, we counted our forces. Our army was composed of the King, his two servants, Tambouris with eight brigands, Dimitri, and myself; in all fourteen men, of whom three were disabled. The coffee-bearer had been poisoned also, and he began to show the first rigors of illness. But we had two guns apiece, and a great supply of cartridges, while the enemy had no arms nor ammunition except what they carried on their persons. They possessed the advantage of numbers and point of vantage. We did not know exactly how many able-bodied men they had, but we must expect to meet twenty-five or thirty assailants. I need not describe to you the place of siege: you know it. Believe, however, that the aspect of the place had changed a great deal since the day when I breakfasted there for the first time, under guard of the Corfuan, with Mrs. Simons and Mary-Ann. The roots of our beautiful trees were exposed, and the nightingale was far away. What is more important for you to know, is, that we were protected on the right and left by rocks, inaccessible even to the enemy. They could attack us from the King’s cabinet, and they could watch us from the bottom of the ravine. On the one hand, their balls flew over us; on the other, ours flew over the sentinels, but at such long range that it was wasting our ammunition.

If Coltzida and his companions had possessed the least idea of war, they could have done for us. They could have raised the barricade, entered by force, driven us into a corner, or thrown us over into the ravine. But the imbecile, who had two men to our one, thought to husband his ammunition, and place, as sharp-shooters, twenty stupid men who did not know how to discharge a gun. Our men were not much more skillful. Better commanded, however, and wiser, they managed to smash five heads before night fell. The combatants knew each other by name. They called to each other after the fashion of Homer’s heroes. One attempted to convert the other by aiming at his cheek; the other replied by a ball and by argument. The combat was only an armed discussion when, from time to time, the muskets spoke.

As for me, stretched out in a corner, sheltered from the balls, I tried to undo my fatal work, and to recall the poor King of the Mountains to life. He suffered cruelly; he complained of great thirst, and a sharp pain in the upper part of the abdomen. His icy hands and feet were violently convulsed. The pulse was irregular, the respiration labored. His stomach seemed to struggle against an internal execution, without being able to expel it. His mind had lost nothing of its vigor and its quickness; his bright and keen eye searched the horizon in the direction of the Bay of Salamis, and Photini’s floating prison.

He grasped my hand and said: “Cure me, my dear child! You are a doctor, you ought to cure me. I will not reproach you with what you have done; you were right; you had reason to kill me, because I swore that without your friend Harris I would not have allowed you to escape me. Is there nothing to quench the fire which consumes me? I care nothing for life; I have lived long enough; but if I die, they will kill you, and my poor Photini will be sacrificed. I suffer! Feel my hands; it seems to me that they are already dead. Do you believe that this American will have the heart to carry out his threats? What was it you told me a little while ago? Photini loves him! Poor little one! I have brought her up to become the wife of a king. I would rather see her dead, than—no, I would rather, after all, that she should love this young man; perhaps he may take pity on her. What are you to him? a friend; nothing more; you are not even a compatriot. One may have as many friends as one wishes; one cannot find two women like Photini; I would strangle all my friends if I found it to my advantage; I would never kill a woman who loved me. If only he knew how rich she is! Americans are practical, at least, so it is said. But the poor, little innocent knows nothing about her fortune. I ought to have told her. But how can I let him know that she will have a dowry of four millions? We are Coltzida’s prisoners. Cure me then, and by all the saints in paradise I will crush the reptile!”

I am not a physician, and all I know about toxicology is in its elementary treatment; I remembered, however, that arsenical poisoning was cured only by a method similar to “Doctor Sangrado.” I used means to make the old man eject the contents of his stomach, and I soon began to hope that the poison was almost expelled. Reaction followed; his skin became burning hot, the pulse quickened, his face flushed, his eyes were blood-shot. I asked him if any one of his men knew enough to bleed him. He tied a bandage tightly around his arm, and coolly opened a vein himself, to the noise of the fusilade and while the bullets dashed around him. He let out a sufficient amount of blood, and asked me in a sweet and tranquil tone, what else there was to do. I ordered him to drink, to drink more, to keep on drinking, until the last particle of arsenic had been disposed of. The goat-skin of white wine which had killed Vasile was still in the chamber. This wine, mixed with water, brought back life to the King. He obeyed me like a child. I believe that the first time I held out the cup to him, his poor, old suffering Highness seized my hand to kiss it.

Toward ten o’clock he became much better, but his pipe-bearer was dead. The poor devil could neither rid himself of the poison, nor revive. They threw him into the ravine, at the top of the cascade. All our defenders were in good condition, without a wound, but famished as wolves in December. As for me, I had been without food for twenty-four hours, and I was very hungry. The enemy, in order to defy us, passed the night eating and drinking above our heads. They threw to us some mutton bones and some empty goat-skin bottles. Our men replied with some shots, guessing at the position of our foes. We could plainly hear the cries of joy and the groans of the dying. Coltzida was drunk; the wounded and the sick howled in unison; Moustakas did not shout for a long time. The tumult kept me awake the entire night near the old King. Ah! Monsieur, how long the nights seem to him who is not sure of the next day!

Tuesday morning broke gray and wet. The sky looked threatening at sunrise, and a disagreeable rain fell alike on friend and foe. But if we were wide awake enough to protect our arms and ammunition, General Coltzida’s army had not taken the same precaution. The first engagement redounded entirely to our honor. The enemy was badly hidden, and fired their pistols with shaking hands. The game seemed so good a one, that I took a gun like the others. What happened I will write to you about at some future time, if I ever become a doctor. I have already confessed to murders enough for a man whose business it is not. Hadgi-Stavros followed my example; but his hands refused to act; his extremities were swollen and painful, and I announced to him, with my usual frankness, that this incapacity might last as long as he did.

About nine o’clock the enemy, who seemed to be very attentive in responding to us, suddenly turned their backs. I heard heavy firing which was not directed to us, and I concluded that Master Coltzida had allowed himself to be surprised in the rear. Who was the unknown ally who was serving us so good a turn? Was it prudent to effect a junction and to demolish our barricade? I asked nothing else, but the King believed that it was a troop of the line, and Tambouris gnawed his moustache. All our doubts were soon removed. A voice which was not unknown to me, cried: “All right!” Three young men, armed to the teeth, sprang forward like tigers, broke down the barricade and fell in our midst. Harris and Lobster held in each hand a six-shooter. Giacomo brandished a musket, the butt-end in the air, like a club: it was thus that he knew how to use fire-arms.

A thunder-bolt falling into the chamber would have produced less magical effect than the appearance of these men, who shot right and left, and who seemed to carry death in their hands. My three fellow-boarders, excited by the noise, elated with victory, perceived neither Hadgi-Stavros nor me. They only turned around in order to kill a man, and God knows! they did their work well. Our poor champions, astonished, affrighted, were overcome without having had time to defend themselves or to be recognized. I, who would have saved their lives, shouted from my corner; but my voice was drowned in the whistling of bullets, and the shouts of the conquerors. Dimitri, crouching between the King and me, vainly joined his voice to mine. Harris, Lobster, and Giacomo fired, ran here and there, knocked down, counting the blows, each in his own tongue.

“One!” said Lobster.

“Two!” responded Harris.

“Tre! quatro! cinque!” growled Giacomo. The fifth was Tambouris. His head split under the blow like a fresh nut struck by a stone. The brains were scattered about, and the body sunk into the water like a bundle of clothes which a washerwoman throws in the edge of a brook. My friends were a fine sight in their horrible work. They killed with ferocity, they delighted in the justice they meted out. While running toward the camp, the wind had blown away their hats; their locks were disheveled; their glistening eyes shone so murderously, that it was difficult to decide whether death was dealt by their looks or by their hands. One could have said that destruction was incarnate in this panting trio. When they had removed all obstacles from their path and they saw no enemies but the three or four wounded men stretched on the ground, they stopped to breathe. Harris’ first thought was for me. Giacomo had only one care: he wished to ascertain whether, among the number, he had broken Hadgi-Stavros’ head. Harris shouted: “Hermann, where are you?”

“Here!” I replied: and the three fighters ran at my call.

The King of the Mountains, feeble as he was, put one hand on my shoulder, raised himself from the rock, looked fixedly at these men who had killed such a number to reach him, and said in a firm tone: “I am Hadgi-Stavros!”

You know that my friends had waited for a long time for occasion to chastise the old Palikar. They had promised themselves to celebrate his death as a festival. They would avenge Mistra’s little daughters; a thousand other victims; me, and themselves. But, however, I had no need to restrain them. There was such remains of greatness in this hero in ruins, that their anger fell from them and gave way to astonishment. They were all three young men, and at the age when one no longer takes arms against a disarmed enemy. I related to them, in a few words, how the King had defended me against his whole band, almost dead as he was, and on the same day on which I had poisoned him. I explained to them about the battle they had interrupted, the barricades they had broken down, and that strange contest in which they had interfered and killed our defenders.

“So much the worse for them!” said John Harris. “We wear, like Justice, a bandage over our eyes. If the rogues performed a good deed before they died, it will be counted in their favor up above; I do not object to it.”

“As for the men of whom we have deprived you, do not worry about them,” said Lobster. “With two revolvers in our hands and two more in our pockets, we have each been worth twenty-four men. We have killed these; the others have only to come back. Is it not so, Giacomo?”

“As for me, I could knock down an army of bulls!” said the Maltese; “I am in the humor for it. And to think that one is reduced to sealing letters with two such fists as these!”

The enemy, however, recovered from their astonishment, had again begun the siege. Three or four brigands had poked their noses over our ramparts and saw the carnage. Coltzida knew not what to think of the three scourges who had struck blindly, right and left, among friends and foes; but he decided that either sword or poison must have freed the King of the Mountains. He prudently ordered the men to demolish our defense. We were out of sight, sheltered by the wall, about ten steps from the staircase. The noise of the falling barricade warned my friends to reload their revolvers. The King allowed them to do so. He said to John Harris:

“Where is Photini?”

“On my ship.”

“You have not harmed her?”

“Do you think that I have taken lessons from you in torturing young girls?”

“You are right, I am a miserable old dog; pardon me! Promise me to forgive her!”

“What the devil do you want me to do with her? Now that I have found Hermann, I will send her back to you whenever you wish.”

“Without ransom?”

“You old beast!”

“You shall see whether I am an old beast!”

He passed his left arm around Dimitri’s neck, he extended his shriveled and trembling hand toward the hilt of his sword, painfully drew the blade from the scabbard, and marched toward the staircase where Coltzida and his men stood hesitating. They recoiled at sight of him, as if the earth had opened to allow the passage of the ruler of the infernal regions. There were fifteen or twenty, all armed; not one dared to defend himself, to make excuses, nor even to attempt to escape. They trembled in all their limbs, at sight of the terrible face of the resuscitated King. Hadgi-Stavros marched straight to Coltzida, who, paler and more horrified than the others, attempted to hide behind his companions. The King threw his arm backwards by an effort impossible to describe, and with one blow severed his head from his body. Instantly, a trembling seized him. His sword fell on the dead man and he did not deign to pick it up.

“Let us go on,” he said, “I carry an empty scabbard. The blade is no longer of use, neither am I; I am done for!”

His old companions approached to ask pardon. Some of them begged him not to abandon them; they knew not what to do without him. He did not honor them with a word of response. He implored us to accompany him to Castia to find horses, and to Salamis to search for Photini.

The brigands allowed us to depart without hindrance. After a few steps, my friends noticed that I could scarcely step; Giacomo helped me along; Harris asked if I was wounded. The King gave me a beseeching look, poor man! I told my friends that I had attempted a perilous escape, and that my feet had been badly wounded. We carefully picked our way down the mountain paths. The groans of the wounded, and the voices of the bandits who were discussing matters, followed us for quite a distance. As we approached the village, the weather changed, and the path began to dry under our feet. The first ray of sunlight which burst forth seemed to me very beautiful. Hadgi-Stavros paid little attention to the outside world; he communed within himself. It is something to break off a habit of fifty years standing.

On the outskirts of Castia, we met the monk who was carrying a swarm of bees in a sack. He greeted us courteously, and excused himself for not having visited us since the evening before. The musket shots had intimidated him. The King saluted him and passed on. My friends’ horses were waiting, with their guide, near the fountain. I asked them how they happened to have four horses. They said that M. Mérinay made one of the party, but that he had alighted to inspect a curious stone, and that he had not yet re-appeared.

Giacomo Fondi lifted me to the saddle at arm’s length; he could not resist the temptation. The King, assisted by Dimitri, painfully climbed into his. Harris and his nephew vaulted into theirs; Giacomo, Dimitri, and the guide preceded us on foot.

The path widening, I rode up beside Harris, and he related to me how the King’s daughter had fallen into his hands:

“Imagine;” he said to me. “I had just arrived from my cruise, much pleased with myself, and very proud of having run down a half-dozen pirates. I anchored off Piraeus, Sunday, at six o’clock; I landed; and as I had been eight days tête-à-tête with my head officer, I promised myself a little pleasure in conversation. I stopped a fiacre, I hired it for the evening. I arrived at Christodule’s house in the midst of a general hubbub; I would never have believed that so much trouble could be found in a pastry-cook’s house. Every one was there for supper. Christodule, Maroula, Dimitri, Giacomo, William, M. Mérinay and the little Sunday girl, more tricked out than ever. William related to me your story. It is useless to tell you that I made a great uproar. I was furious with myself for not having been in the city. My nephew assured me that he had done all he could. He had scoured the city for fifteen thousand francs, but his parents had opened only a limited credit for him; briefly, he had not found the amount. In despair, he addressed himself to M. Mérinay: but the sweet Mérinay pretended that all his money was lent to his intimate friends, far from here, very far;—farther than the end of the world!

“‘Eh! Zounds!’ I said to Lobster, ‘it is in lead-money that one must pay the old scoundrel. For what good is it to be as dextrous as Nimrod, if one’s talent is good only to break Socrates’ prison? We must organize a hunt for the old Palikars! Once, I refused a journey to Central Africa: I have since regretted it. It is double pleasure to shoot an animal which defends itself. Provide plenty of powder and balls, and to-morrow morning we will set out on a campaign.’ William took the bait, Giacomo brought his fist down in a crashing blow on the table; you know what Giacomo’s fist-blows are. He swore that he would accompany us, provided he could find a single-barreled gun. But the most enraged of all was M. Mérinay. He wished to bathe his hands in the blood of those wretches. We accepted his services, but I offered to buy the game which he would bring back. He swelled out his little voice in the most comical fashion, and showing his fists to Mademoiselle, said that Hadgi-Stavros would have business to settle with him.

“I laughed gleefully like those who are always gay the night before a battle. Lobster became very merry at the thought of showing the bandits the progress he had made. Giacomo could not contain himself for joy; the corners of his mouth went around dangerously near his ears; he cracked nuts with the face of a nut-cracker of Nuremburg. M. Mérinay had a halo around his head. He was no longer a man, but a pyrotechnic display.

“Except us, the guests resembled alder trees. The pastry-cook’s huge wife made signs of the cross; Dimitri raised his eyes to heaven, Christodule advised us to think twice before we provoked the King of the Mountains. But the girl with the flat nose, the one to whom you gave the name of Crinolina invariabilis, was plunged in grief which was quite amusing. She fetched great sighs like a wood-splitter; she did this only to keep herself in countenance, and I could have put in my left eye all the supper which she put into her mouth.”

“She is a good girl, Harris.”

“Good girl as much as you wish, but I find that your indulgence for her passes all bounds. I have never been able to pardon her for her dresses which thrust themselves obstinately under the legs of my chair, the odor of patchouli which she spreads around me, and the lackadaisical glances which she passes around the table. One would say, upon my word, that she is not capable of looking at a carafe without casting sheep’s eyes at it. But if you love her, such as she is, there is nothing to be said. She left at nine o’clock for her boarding-school; I wished her bon voyage. Ten minutes afterward I shook hands with our friends, we made a rendezvous for the next day, I went out, I wakened my coachman and guess whom I found in my carriage? Crinolina invariabilis with the pastry-cook’s servant.

“She placed her finger on her lips. I entered without saying a word, and we started. ‘Monsieur Harris,’ she said in very good English, by my faith, ‘swear to me to renounce your plans against the King of the Mountains.’

“I began to laugh, and she began to weep. She declared that I would be killed; I replied that it was I who would kill the others; she objected to having Hadgi-Stavros killed; I wished to know why; at last, at the end of her eloquence, she cried out, as if in the fifth act of a play: ‘He is my father!’ Upon that I began to seriously reflect; once in a way does not count. I thought that it might be possible to recover a lost friend without risking two or three others, and I said to the young Palikar:

“‘Your father loves you?’

“‘More than his life.’

“‘He never refuses you anything?’

“‘Nothing that is necessary.’

“‘And if you should write to him that you wanted M. Hermann Schultz would he send him to you with the message-bearer?’

“‘No.’

“‘You are absolutely sure of it?’

“‘Absolutely.’

“‘Then, Mademoiselle, I have but one thing to do. Set a thief to catch a thief. I will carry you on board The Fancy, and I will hold you as a hostage until Hermann is returned.’

“‘I was about to propose it to you,’ she said. ‘At that price papa will send back your friend.’”

Here I interrupted John Harris’ story.

“Oh, well! you do not admire the poor, young girl who loves you enough to give herself into your hands?”

“A fine affair!” he replied. “She wished to save that honest man, her father, and she well knew that once war was declared we would not let him escape. I promised to treat her with all the respect a gallant man ought to treat a woman. She wept until we reached Piraeus. I consoled her as best I could. She murmured: ‘I am a lost girl!’ I demonstrated to her by ‘A’ plus ‘B’ that she would find herself again. I made her get out of the carriage. I helped her and the servant into my boat, which now awaits us below. I wrote to the old brigand an explicit letter, and I sent an old woman with a little message to Dimitri.

“Since that time the beautiful weeper enjoys undisputed possession of my apartments. Orders were given that she was to be treated like the daughter of a king. I waited until Monday evening for her father’s response; then my patience failed me; I returned to my first plan; I took my pistols; I notified my friends, and you know the rest. Now it is your turn; you ought to have a whole volume to recount.”

“I must first speak to the King.”

I approached him and said to him in a low tone: “I do not know why I told you that Photini was in love with John Harris. Fear must have turned my head. I have been talking with him, and I swear to you, on the head of my father, that she is as indifferent to him as if he had never spoken to her.”

The old man thanked me with a motion of the hand, and I went back to John Harris, and related my adventures with Mary-Ann. “Bravo!” he exclaimed. “I find that the romance is not complete on account of the absence of a little love. A sufficient amount will do no harm.”

“Excuse me,” I answered. “There is no love in it at all! A firm friendship on one side, a little gratitude on the other. But nothing more is necessary, I think, to make a reasonably suitable marriage.”

“Marry, my friend, and permit me to be a witness to your happiness.”

“You have well earned it, John Harris.”

“When shall you see her again? I would give much to be present at the interview.”

“I would like to surprise her and meet her by chance.”

“That is a good idea! After to-morrow, at the Court Ball! You are invited. I am, too. Your note lies on your table, at Christodule’s house. Until then, my boy, you must remain on board my ship in order to recuperate a little. Your hair is scorched and your feet are wounded; we will have time to remedy all that.”

It was six o’clock in the evening when the boat belonging to Harris put off to The Fancy. They carried the King on deck; he could not walk. Photini, weeping, threw herself into his arms. It was happiness to see that those whom she loved had survived the battle, but she found her father grown twenty years older. Possibly, also, she suffered from Harris’ indifference. He delivered her to her father in a characteristic American fashion, saying: “We are quits! You have returned my friend to me; I have restored Mademoiselle to you. An even exchange is no robbery! Short accounts make long friends! And now, most venerable old man, under what beneficent region of the earth will you search for the one who is to hang you?”

“Pardon me,” he replied, with a certain hauteur. “I have bidden adieu to brigandage forever. What would I do in the mountains? All of my men are dead, wounded or scattered. I could form another band; but these hands which have been so powerful, refuse to act. Younger men must take my place; but I defy them to equal my fortune and my renown. What shall I do with what few years are left to me? I know not yet; but you may be sure that my last days will not be idle ones. I have to establish my daughter to dictate my memoirs. Possibly, even, if the shocks of this week have not wearied my brain too severely, I will consecrate to the service of the State my talents and my experience. May God give me health and strength! before six months have passed I shall be President of the Ministry!”
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