THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP
We have lately taken a little journey together, and now we want to take a longer one. Whither % To Sparta, to Mycene, to Delphi ? There are a hundred places at whose names the heart beats with the desire of travel. On horseback we go up the mountain paths, through brake and through brier. A single traveller makes an appearance like a whole caravan. He rides forward with his guide, a 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 pilau of rice, fowls, and curry for his supper. A thousand gnats swarm round the tent. It is a miserable night, and to-morrow the way will lead across swollen streams ; sit fast on your horse that you may not be washed away !
What is your reward for undergoing these hardships ? The fullest, richest reward. Nature manifests herself here in all her greatness ; every spot is historical, and the eye and the thoughts are alike delighted. The poet may sing it, the painter portray it in rich pictures; but the air of reality which sinks deep into the soul of the spectator, and remains there, neither painter nor poet can reproduce.
The lonely herdsman yonder on the hills would, perhaps, by a simple recital of an event in his life, better enlighten you, who wish in a few features to behold the land of the Hellenes, than any writer of travel could do.
' Then/ says my Muse, * let him speak/
A custom, a good, peculiar custom, shall be the subject of the mountain shepherd's tale. It is called
The Bond of Friendship
Our rude house was put together of clay ; but the doorposts 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,