could think calmly again, why, then
" I must divide myself between the two," he said ; " I can't quite give
up the huckster, because of the porridge ! "
Now, that was spoken quite like a human creature. "We all of us
visit the huckster for the sake of the porridge.
THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP.
WE have before taken little journeys together, and now we want to
take a longer one. Whither ? To Sparta, to Mycene, to Delphi ? There
are a hundred places at whose names the heart beats with the desire of
travel. On horseback we go up the mountain paths, through brake
and through brier. A single traveller makes an appearance like a whole
caravan. He rides forward with his guide, a pack-horse carries trunks,
a tent, and provisions, and a few armed soldiers follow as a guard. No
inn with warm beds awaits him at the end of his tiring day's journey :
the tent is often his dwelling-place. In the great wild region the guide
cooks him a pillan of rice, fowls, and curry for his supper. A thousand
gnats swarm round the tent. It is a boisterous night, and to-morrow the
way will lead across swollen streams ; take care that you are not washed
What is your reward for undergoing these hardships ? The fullest,
richest reward. Nature manifests herself here in all her greatness ; every
spot is historical, and the eye and the thoughts are alike delighted. The
poet may sing it, the painter portray it in rich pictures ; but the air of
reality which sinks deep into the soul of the spectator, and remains
there, neither painter nor poet can produce.
In many little sketches I have endeavoured to give an idea of a small
part of Athens and its environs ; but how colourless the picture seems !
How little does it exhibit Greece, the mourning genius of beauty, whose
past greatness and whose sorrow the stranger never forgets !
The lonely herdsmen yonder on the hills would, perhaps, by a simple
recital of an event in his life, better enlighten the stranger who wishes
THE GREEK MOTHEE'S SONG.
in a few features to behold the land of the Hellenes, than any picture
" Then," says my Muse, " let him speak."
A custom, a good, peculiar custom, shall be the subject of the moun-
tain shepherd's tale. It is called
THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP.
Our rude house was put together of clay; but the door-posts were
columns of fluted marble found near the spot where the house was
erected. The roof reached almost down to the ground. It was now
dark brown and ugly, but it had originally consisted of blooming olive
and fresh laurel branches brought from beyond the mountain. Around
our dwelling was a narrow gorge, whose walls of rock rose steeply
upwards, and showed naked and black, and round their summits often
hung clouds, like white living figures. Never did I hear a singing bird
there, never did the men there dance to the sound of the bagpipe ; but
the spot was sacred from the old times : even its name reminded of this,
for it was called Delphi ! The dark solemn mountains were all covered
with snow ; the highest, which gleamed the longest in the red light of
evening, was Parnassus ; the brook which rolled from it near our house
was once sacred also. Now the ass sullies it with its feet, but the
stream rolls on and on, and becomes clear again. How I can remember
every spot in the deep holy solitude ! In the midst of the hut a fire
A62 Stories for the Household.
was kindled, and when the hot ashes lay there red and glowing, the
bread was baked in them. "When the snow was piled so high around
our hut as almost to hide it, my mother appeared most cheerful : then
she would hold my head between her hands, and sing the songs she
never sang at other times, for the Turks our masters would not allow
it. She sang:
" On the summit of Olympus, in the forest of dwarf firs, lay an old
stag. His eyes were heavy with tears ; he wept blue and even red
tears ; and there came a roebuck by, and said, ' What ails thee, that
thou weepest those blue and red tears ? ' And the stag answered,
' The Turk has come to our city : he has wild dogs for the chase, a
goodly pack.' ' I will drive them away across the islands,' cried the
young roebuck, ' I will drive them away across the islands into the deep
sea ! ' But before evening sank down the roebuck was slain, and before
night the stag was hunted and dead."
And when my mother sang thus, her eyes hecame moist, and on the
long eyelashes hung a tear ; but she hid it, and baked our black bread
in the ashes. Then I would clench my fist and cry,
" We will kill the Turks ! "
But she repeated from the song the words,
" I will drive them across the islands into the deep sea. But before
evening sank down the roebuck was slain, and before the night came
the stag was hunted and dead."
For several days and nights we had been lonely in our hut, when
my father came home. I knew he would bring me shells from the Gull
of Lepanto, or perhaps even a bright gleaming knife. This time he
brought us a child, a little half-naked girl, that he carried under his
sheep-skiu cloak. It was wrapped in a fur, and all that the little
creature possessed when this was taken off, and she lay in my mother's
lap, were three silver coins, fastened in her dark hair. My father told
us that the Turks had killed the child's parents; and he told so much
about them that I dreamed of the Turks all night. He himself had
been wounded, and my mother bound up his arm. The wound was
deep, and the thick sheep-skin was stiff with frozen blood. The little
maiden was to be my sister. How radiantly beautiful she looked !
Even my mother's eyes were not more gentle than hers. Anastasia, as
she was called, was to be my sister, because her father had been united
to mine by the old custom which we still keep. They had sworn
brotherhood in their youth, and chosen the most beautiful and virtuous
girl in the neighbourhood to consecrate their bond of friendship. I
often heard of the strange good custom.
So now the little girl was my sister. She sat in my lap, and I brought
her flowers and the feathers of the mountain birds : we drank together
of the waters of Parnassus, and dwelt together for many a year under
the laurel roof of the hut, while my mother sang winter after winter of
the stag who wept red tears. But as vet I did not understand that it
was my own countrymen whose many sorrows were mirrored in those
The Bond of Friendship. 463
One day there came three Frankish men. Their dress \vas different
from ours. They had tents and beds with them on their horses, and
more than twenty Turks, all armed with swords and muskets, accom-
panied them ; for they were friends of the pasha, and had letters from
him commanding an escort for them. They only came to see our
mountains, to ascend Parnassus amid the snow and the clouds, and to
look at the strange black steep rock near our hut. They could not
find room in it, nor could they endure the smoke that rolled along the
ceiling and found its way out at the low door ; therefore they pitched
their tents on the small space outside our dwelling, roasted lambs and
birds, and poured out strong sweet wine, of which the Turks were not
allowed to partake.
When they departed, I accompanied them for some distance, carrying
my little sister Anastasia, wrapped in a goat-skin, on my back. One of
the Frankish gentlemen made me stand in front of a rock, a'nd drew me,
and her too, as we stood there, so that we looked like one creature. 1
never thought of it before, but Anastasia and I were really one. She was
always sitting in my lap or riding in the goat-skin at my back, and when
I dreamed, she appeared in my dreams.
Two nights afterwards, other men, armed with knives and muskets,
came into our tent. They were Albanians, brave men, my mother told
me. They only stayed a short time. My sister Anastasia sat on the
knee of one of them, and when they were gone she had not three, but
only two silver coins in her hair. They wrapped tobacco in strips of
paper and smoked it. I remember they were undecided as to the road
they were to take.
But they had to make a choice. They went, and my father went
with them. Soon afterwards we heard the sound of firing. The noise
was renewed, and soldiers rushed into our hut, and took my mother,
and myself, and my sister Anastasia prisoners. They declared that the
robbers had been entertained by us, and that my father had acted as
the robbers' guide, and therefore we must go with them. Presently I
saw the corpses of the robbers brought in ; I saw my father's corpse
too. I cried and cried till I fell asleep. When I awoke, we were in
prison, but the room was not worse than ours in our own house. They
gave me onions to eat, and musty wine poured from a tarry cask, but
we had no better fare at home.
How long we were kept prisoners I do not know ; but many days
and nights went by. AVhen we were set free it was the time of the
holy Easter feast. I carried Anastasia on my back, for my mother was
ill, and could only move slowly, and it was a long way till we came
down to the sea, to the Gulf of Lepanto. We went into a church that
gleamed with pictures painted on a golden ground. They were pictures
of angels, and very beautiful ; but it seemed to me that our little
Anastasia was just as beautiful. In the middle of the floor stood a
Coffin filled with roses. "The Lord Christ is pictured there in the
form of a beautiful rose," said my mother ; and the priest announced,
" Christ is risen ! " All the people kissed each other : each one had a
Stories for the Household.
burning taper in his hand, and I received one myself, and so did little
Anastasia. The bagpipes sounded, men danced hand in hand from the
church, and outside the women were roasting the Easter lamb. We
were invited to partake, and I sat by the fire ; a boy, older than myself,
put his arms round my neck, kissed me, and said, " Christ is risen ! " and
thus it was that for the first time I met Aphtanides.
My mother could make fishermen's nets, for which there was a good
demand here in the bay, and we lived a long time by the side of the ser.,
the beautiful sea, that tasted like tears, and in its colours reminded me
of the song of the stag that wept for sometimes its waters were red,
and sometimes green or blue.
Aphtanides knew how to manage our boat, and I often sat in it, with
my little Anastasia, while it glided on through the water, swift as a bird
flying through the air. Then, when the sun sank down, the mountains
were tinted with a deeper and deeper blue, one range seemed to rise
behind the other, and behind them all stood Parnassus with its snow-
crowned summit. The mountain-top gleamed in the evening rays like
glowing iron, and it seemed as though the light came from within it ;
for long after the sun had set, the mountain still shone through the
clear blue air. The white water birds touched the surface of the sea
with their wings, and all here was as calm and quiet as among the black
rocks at Delphi. I lay on my back in the boat, Anastasia leaned against
me, and the stars above us shone brighter than the lamps in our church.
They were the same stars, and they stood exactly in the same positions
above me, as when I had sat in front of our hut at Delphi ; and at last
I almost fancied I was back there. Suddenly there was a splash in the
water, and the boat rocked violently. I cried out in horror, for Anastasia
had fallen into the water ; but in a moment Aphtanides had sprung in
after her, and was holding her up to me ! We dried her clothes as well
as we could, remaining on the water till they were dry ; for uo one was
to know what a fright we had had for our little adopted sister, in whose
life Aphtanides now had a part.
The summer came. The sun burned so hot that the leaves turned
yellow on the trees. I thought of our cool mountains, and of the
fresh water they contained ; my mother, too, longed for them ; and one
evening we wandered home. What peace, what silence ! We walked
on through the thick thyme, still fragrant though the sun had scorched
its leaves. Not a single herdsman did we meet, not one solitary hut did
we pass. Everything was quiet and deserted; but a shooting star
announced that in heaven there was yet life. I know not if the clear
blue air gleamed with light of its own, or if the radiance came from the
stars ; but we could see the outlines of the mountains quite plainly.
My mother lighted a fire, roasted some roots she had brought with her,
and I and my little sister slept among the thyme, without fear of the
ugly Smidraki,* from whose throat fire spurts forth, or of the wolf and
According to the Greek superstition, this is a monster generated from the unopened entrails
of slaughtered sheep, which are thrown away in the fields.
THE FRIENDS AT LEPANTO.
jackal; for my mother sat beside us, and I considered her presence
protection enough for us.
We reached our old home ; but the hut was a heap of ruins, and a
new one had to be built. A few women lent my mother their aid, and
in a few days walls were raised, and covered with a new roof of olive
branches. My mother made many bottle-cases of bark and skins ; I
kept the little flock of the priests,* and Anastasia and the little tortoises
were my playmates.
Once we had a visit from our beloved Aphtanides, who said he had
greatly longed to see us, and who stayed with us two whole happy
A month afterwards he came again, and told us that he was going in
a ship to Corfu and Patras, but must bid us good bye first ; and he had
brought a large fish for our mother. He had a great deal to tell, not
only of the fishermen yonder in the Gulf of Lepanto. but also of
Kings and heroes, who had once possessed Greece, just as the Turks
possess it now.
I have seen a bud on a rose bush gradually unfold in days and weeks,
till it became a rose, and hung there in its beauty, before I was aware
how large and beautiful and red it had become ; and the same thing I
now saw in Anastasia. She was now a beautiful grown girl, and I
A peasant who can read often becomes a priest; he is then called " very holy Sir," and the
lower orders kiss the ground on which he has stepped.
466 Stories for the Household.
had become a stout stripling. The wolf-skins that covered my mother's
and Anastasia's bed, I had myself taken from wolves that had fallen
beneath my shots.
Tears had gone by, when one evening Aphtanides came in, slender
as a reed, strong and brown. He kissed us all, and had much to tell of
the fortifications of Malta, of the great ocean, and of the marvellous
sepulchres of Egypt. It sounded strange as a legend of the priests, and
I looked up to him with a kind of veneration.
" How much you know ! " I exclaimed ; " what wonders you can tell
of ! "
" But you have told me the finest thing, after all," he replied. " Ton
told me of a thing that has never been out of my thoughts of the good
old custom of the bond of friendship, a custom I should like to follow.
Brother, let you and I go to church, as your father and Anastasia's
went before us : your sister Anastasia is the most beautiful and most
innocent of girls ; she shall consecrate us ! No people lias such grand
old customs as we Greeks."
Anastasia blushed like a young rose, and my mother kissed Aph-
A couple of miles from our house, there where loose earth lies on the
hill and a few scattered trees give a shelter, stood the little church ; a
silver lamp hung in front of the altar.
I had put on my best clothes : the white fustanella fell in rich folds
round my hips, the red jacket fitted tight and close, the tassel on my
fez cap was silver, and in my girdle gleamed a knite and my pistols.
Aphtanides was clad in the blue garb worn by Greek sailors ; on his
chest hung a silver plate with the figure of the Virgin Mary ; his scarf
was as costly as those worn by rich lords. Every one could see that we
were about to go through a solemn ceremony. We stepped into the
little simple church, where the evening sunlight, streaming through the
door, gleamed on the burning lamp and the pictures on golden ground.
"We knelt down on the altar steps, and Anastasia came before us. A
long white garment hung loose over her graceful form ; on her white
neck and bosom hung a chain, covered with old and new coins, forming
a kind of collar. Her black hair was fastened in a knot, and confined
by a head-dress made of silver and gold coins that had been found in
an old temple. No Greek girl had more beautiful ornaments than she.
Her countenance glowed, and her eyes were like two stars.
We all three prayed silently ; and then she said to us,
" Will you be friends in life and in death ? "
" Yes," we replied.
" Will you, whatever may happen, remember this : my brother is a
part of myself. My secrets are his, my happiness is his. Self-sacrifice,
patience everything in me belongs to him as to me ? "
And we again answered, " Yes."
Then she joined our hands and kissed us on the forehead, and we
again prayed silently. Then the priest came through the door near the
altar, and blessed us all three ; and a song, sung by the other holy men,
The Bond of Friendship. 467
sounded from behind the altar screen, and the bond of eternal friendship
was concluded. When we rose, I saw my mother standing by the church
door weeping heartily.
How cheerful it was now, in our little hut, and by the springs of
Delphi ! On the evening before his departure, Aphtanides sat thought-
ful with me on the declivity of a mountain ; his arm was flung round
my waist, and mine was round his neck : we spoke of the sorrows of
Greece, and of the men whom the country could trust. Every thought
of our souls lay clear before each of us, and I seized his hand.
" One thing thou must still know, one thing that till now has been a
secret between myself and Heaven. My whole soul is filled with love !
with a love stronger than the love I bear to my mother and to thee ! "
"And whom do you love ? " asked Aphtanides, and his face and neck
grew red as fire.
" I love Anastasia," I replied and his hand trembled in mine, and
he became pale as a corpse. I saw it ; I understood the cause ; and I
believe my hand trembled. I bent towards him, kissed his forehead,
and whispered, " I have never spoken of it to her, and perhaps she does
not love me. Brother, think of this : I have seen her daily ; she has
grown up beside me, and has become a part of my soul ! "
"And she shall be thine!" he exclaimed, "thine! I may not de-
ceive thee, nor will I do so. I also love her ; but to-niorrow I depart.
In a year we shall see each other once more, and then you will be
married, will you not ? I have a little gold of my own : it shall be thine.
Thou must, thou shalt take it."
And we wandered home silently across the mountains. It was late
in the evening when we stood at my mother's door.
Anastasia held the lamp upwards as we entered : my mother was not
there. She gazed at Aphtanides with a beautifully mournful gaze.
" To-morrow you are going from us," she said : " I am very sorry
" Sorry ! " he repeated, and in his voice there seemed a trouble as
great as the grief I myself felt. I could not speak, but he seized her
hand, and said, " Our brother yonder loves you, and he is dear to you,
is he not ? His very silence is a proof of his affection."
Anastasia trembled and burst into tears. Then I saw no one but
her, thought of none but her, and threw my arms round her, and said,
" I love thee ! " She pressed her lips to mine, and flung her arms round
my neck ; but the lamp had fallen to the ground, and all was dark
around us dark as in the heart of poor Aphtanides.
Before daybreak he rose, kissed us all, said farewell, and went away.
He had given all his money to my mother for us. Anastasia was my
betrothed, and a few days afterwards she became my wife.
IN a narrow crooked street, among other abodes of poverty, stood
an especially narrow and tall house built of timber, which time had
knocked about in such fashion that it seemed to be out of joint in avery
direction. The house was inhabited by poor people, and the deepest
poverty was apparent in the garret lodging in the gable, where, in front
of the only window, hung an old bent birdcage, which had not even a
proper water-glass, but only a Bottle-neck reversed, with a cork stuck in
the mouth, to do duty for one. An old maid stood by the window : she
had hung the cage with green chickweed ; and a little chaffinch hopped
from perch to perch, and sang and twittered merrily enough.
" Yes, it 's all very well for you to sing," said the Bottle-neck ; that
is to say, it did not pronounce the words as we can speak them, for a
bottle-neck can't speak ; but that 's what he thought to himself in his
own mind, like when we people talk quietly to ourselves. " Yes, it 's all
very well for you to sing, you that have all your limbs uninjured. You
ought to feel what it's like to lose one's body, and to have only mouth
and neck left, and to be hampered with work into the bargain, as in
my case ; and then I 'm sure you would not sing. But after all it is well
that there should be somebody at least who is merry. I 've no reason
to sing, and, moreover, I can't sing. Yes, when I was a whole bottle, I
sang out well if they rubbed me with a cork. They used to call me a
perfect lark, a magnificent lark ! Ah, when I was out at a picnic with
the tanner's family, and his daughter was betrothed ! Yes, I remember
it as if it had happened only yesterday. I have gone through a great
deal, when I come to recollect, I 've been in the fire and the water,
have been deep in the black earth, and have mounted higher than most
of the others ; and now I 'm hanging here, outside the birdcage, in the
air and the sunshine ! Oh, it would be quite worth while to hear my
history ; but I don't speak aloud of it, because I can't."
And now the Bottle-neck told its story, which was sufficiently re-
markable. It told the story to itself, or only thought it in its own mind ;
and the little bird sang his song merrily, and down in the street there
was driving and hurrying, and every one thought of his own affairs, or
perhaps of nothing at all ; and only the Bottle-neck thought. It thought
of the flaming furnace in the manufactory, where it had been blown into
life ; it still remembered that it had been quite warm, that it had glanced
into the hissing furnace, the home of its origin, and had felt a great
desire to leap directly back again ; but that gradually it had become
cooler, and had been very comfortable in the place to which it was taken.
It had stood in a rank with a whole regiment of brothers and sisters, all
out of the same furnace ; some of them had certainly been blown into
champagne bottles, and others into beer bottles, and that makes a dif-
ference. Later, out in the world, it may well happen that a beer bottle
may contain the most precious wine, and a champagne bottle be filled
The Bottle-Neck. 469
with blacking ; but even in decay there is always something left by
which people can see what one has been nobility is nobility, even when
filled with blacking.
All the bottles were packed up, and our bottle was among them. At
that time it did not think to finish its career as a bottle-neck, or that it
should work its way up to be a bird's glass, which is always an honour-
able thing, for one is of some consequence, after all. The bottle did
not again behold the light of day till it was unpacked with the other
bottles in the cellar of the wine merchant, and rinsed out for the first
time ; and that was a strange sensation. There it lay, empty and without
a cork, and felt strangely unwell, as if it wanted something, it could not
tell what. At last it was filled with good costly wine, and was provided
with a cork, and sealed down. A ticket was placed on it marked " first
quality ; " and it felt as if it had carried off the first prize at an exami-
nation ; for, you see, the wine was good and the bottle was good. "When
one is young, that 's the time for poetry ! There was a singing and
sounding within it, of things which it could not understand of green
sunny mountains, whereon the grape grows, where many vine dressers,
men and women, sing and dance and rejoice. " Ah, how beautiful is
life ! " There was a singing and sounding of all this in the bottle, as in
a young poet's brain ; and many a young poet does not understand the
meaning of the song that is within him.
One morning the bottle was bought, for the tanner's apprentice was
dispatched for a bottle of wine " of the best," And now it was put in