THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP 189
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 flowed 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 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, kiss my forehead, and sing the songs she never sang at other times, for the Turks our masters would not allow it. She sang :
I On the summit of Olympus, in the forest of dwarf firs, lay an old stag. His eyes were heavy with tears ; he wept red, green, and even pale blue tears ; and there came a roebuck by, and said, " What ails thee, that thou weepest those blue, green, and red tears ? " And the stag answered, " The Turk has come to our village : 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 became 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,
II will drive them across the islands into the deep sea.