190 THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP
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 Gulf 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-skin 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 slept, cheek to cheek, under the laurel roof of the hut, while my mother sang winter after winter about the red, green, and pale blue tears. But as yet I did not understand that it was my own countrymen whose many sorrows were mirrored in those tears.
One day there came three Frankish men. Their dress was different from ours. They had tents and beds with them on their horses, and more than twenty Turks, all armed with swords and muskets, accompanied 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 rocks near our hut. They could not find room in it, nor could