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Title:      The Evil Eye
Author:     Mary Shelley
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0603161.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          July 2006
Date most recently updated: July 2006

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Title:      The Evil Eye
Author:     Mary Shelley




The wild Albanian kirtled to his knee,
With shawl-girt head, and ornamented gun,
And gold-embroider'd garments, fair to see;
The crimson-scarfed man of Macedon.--Lord Byron.*

[* Childe Harold II. lviii]


The Moreot, Katusthius Ziani, travelled wearily, and in fear of its
robber-inhabitants, through the pashalik of Yannina; yet he had no cause
for dread. Did he arrive, tired and hungry, in a solitary village--did
he find himself in the uninhabited wilds suddenly surrounded by a band
of Klephts--or in the larger towns did he shrink at finding himself sole
of his race among the savage mountaineers and despotic Turk--as soon as
he announced himself the Pobratimo[*] of Dmitri of the Evil Eye, every
hand was held out, every voice spoke welcome.

[* In Greece, especially in Illyria and Epirus, it is no uncommon thing
for persons of the same sex to swear friendship; the church contains a
ritual to consecrate this vow. Two men thus united are called pobratimi,
the women posestrime.]

The Albanian, Dmitri, was a native of the village of Korvo. Among the
savage mountains of the district between Yannina and Tepellen, the deep
broad stream of Argyro-Castro flows; bastioned to the west by abrupt
wood-covered precipices, shadowed to the east by elevated mountains. The
highest among these is Mount Trebucci; and in a romantic folding of that
hill, distinct with minarets, crowned by a dome rising from out a group
of pyramidal cypresses, is the picturesque village of Korvo. Sheep and
goats form the apparent treasure of its inhabitants; their guns and
yataghans, their warlike habits, and, with them, the noble profession of
robbery, are sources of still greater wealth. Among a race renowned for
dauntless courage and sanguinary enterprise, Dmitri was distinguished.

It was said that in his youth, this Klepht was remarkable for a gentler
disposition and more refined taste than is usual with his countrymen. He
had been a wanderer, and had learned European arts, of which he was not
a little proud. He could read and write Greek, and a book was often
stowed beside his pistols in his girdle. He had spent several years in
Scio, the most civilized of the Greek islands, and had married a Sciote
girl. The Albanians are characterized as despisers of women; but Dmitri,
in becoming the husband of Helena, inlisted under a more chivalrous
rule, and became the proselyte of a better creed. Often he returned to
his native hills, and fought under the banner of the renowned Ali, and
then came back to his island home. The love of the tamed barbarian was
concentrated, burning, and something beyond this--it was a portion of
his living, beating heart--the nobler part of himself--the diviner mould
in which his rugged nature had been recast.

On his return from one of his Albanian expeditions, he found his home
ravaged by the Mainotes. Helena--they pointed to her tomb, nor dared
tell him how she died; his only child, his lovely infant daughter, was
stolen; his treasure-house of love and happiness was rifled; its
gold-excelling wealth changed to blank desolation. Dmitri spent three
years in endeavours to recover his lost offspring. He was exposed to a
thousand dangers--underwent incredible hardships: he dared the wild
beast in his lair, the Mainote in his port of refuge; he attacked, and
was attacked by them. He wore the badge of his daring in a deep gash
across his eyebrow and cheek. On this occasion he had died, but that
Katusthius, seeing a scuffle on shore and a man left for dead,
disembarked from a Moreot sacoleva, carried him away, tended and cured
him. They exchanged vows of friendship, and for some time the Albanian
shared his brother's toils; but they were too pacific to suit his taste,
and he returned to Korvo.

Who in the mutilated savage could recognise the handsomest amongst the
Arnaoots? His habits kept pace with his change of physiognomy--he grew
ferocious and hard-hearted--he only smiled when engaged in dangerous
enterprise; he had arrived at that worst state of ruffian feeling, the
taking delight in blood. He grew old in these occupations; his mind
became reckless, his countenance more dark; men trembled before his
glance, women and children exclaimed in terror, "The Evil Eye!" The
opinion became prevalent--he shared it himself--he gloried in the dread
privilege; and when his victim shivered and withered beneath the mortal
influence, the fiendish laugh with which he hailed this demonstration of
his power, struck with worse dismay the failing heart of the fascinated
person. But Dmitri could command the arrows of his sight; and his
comrades respected him the more for his supernatural attribute, since
they did not fear the exercise of it on themselves.

Dmitri had just returned from an expedition beyond Prevesa. He and his
comrades were laden with spoil. They killed and roasted a goat whole for
their repast; they drank dry several wine skins; then, round the fire in
the court, they abandoned themselves to the delights of the kerchief
dance, roaring out the chorus, as they dropped upon and then rebounded
from their knees, and whirled round and round with an activity all their
own. The heart of Dmitri was heavy; he refused to dance, and sat apart,
at first joining in the song with his voice and lute, till the air
changed to one that reminded him of better days; his voice died
away--his instrument dropped from his hands--and his head sank upon his
breast.

At the sound of stranger footsteps he started up; in the form before him
he surely recognised a friend--he was not mistaken. 'With a joyful
exclamation he welcomed Katusthius Ziani, clasping his hand, and kissing
him on his cheek. The traveller was weary, so they retired to Dmitri's
own home a neatly plastered, white-washed cottage, whose earthen floor
was perfectly dry and clean, and the walls hung with arms, some richly
ornamented, and other trophies of his Klephtic triumphs. A fire was
kindled by his aged female attendant; the friends reposed on mats of
white rushes, while she prepared the pilaf and seethed flesh of kid. She
placed a bright tin tray on a block of wood before them, and heaped upon
it cakes of Indian corn, goat's milk cheese, eggs, and olives: a jar of
water from their purest spring, and skin of wine, served to refresh and
cheer the thirsty traveller.

After supper, the guest spoke of the object of his visit. "I come to my
Pobratimo," he said, "to claim the performance of his vow. When I
rescued you from the savage Kakovougnis of Boularias, you pledged to me
your gratitude and faith; do you disclaim the debt?"

Dmitri's brow darkened. "My brother," he cried, "need not remind mc of
what I owe. Command my life--in what can the mountain Klepht aid the
son of the wealthy Ziani?"

"The son of Ziani is a beggar," rejoined Katusthius, "and must perish,
if his brother deny his assistance."

The Moreot then told his tale. He had been brought up as the only son of
a rich merchant of Corinth. He had often sailed as caravokeiri [*] of
his father's vessels to Stamboul, and even to Calabria. Some years
before, he had been boarded and taken by a Barbary corsair. His life
since then had been adventurous, he said; in truth, it had been a guilty
one--he had become a renegade--and won regard from his new allies, not
by his superior courage, for he was cowardly, but by the frauds that
make men wealthy. In the midst of this career some superstition had
influenced him, and he had returned to his ancient religion. He escaped
from Africa, wandered through Syria, crossed to Europe, found occupation
in Constantinople; and thus years passed. At last, as he was on the
point of marriage with a Fanariote beauty, he fell again into poverty,
and he returned to Corinth to see if his father's fortunes had prospered
during his long wanderings. He found that while these had improved to a
wonder, they were lost to him for ever. His father, during his
protracted absence, acknowledged another son as his; and dying a year
before, had left all to him. Katusthius found this unknown kinsman, with
his wife and child, in possession of his expected inheritance. Cyril
divided with him, it is true, their parent's property; but Katusthius
grasped at all, and resolved to obtain it. He brooded over a thousand
schemes of murder and revenge; yet the blood of a brother was sacred to
him; and Cyril, beloved and respected at Corinth, could only be attacked
with considerable risk. Then his child was a fresh obstacle. As the best
plan that presented itself, he hastily embarked for Butrinto, and came
to claim the advice and assistance of the Arnaoot whose life he had
saved, whose Pobratimo he was. Not thus barely, did he tell his tale,
but glossed it over; so that had Dmitri needed the incitement of
justice, which was not at all a desideratum with him, he would have been
satisfied that Cyril was a base interloper, and that the whole
transaction was one of imposture and villany.

[* Master of a merchant ship]

All night these men discussed a variety of projects, whose aim was, that
the deceased Ziani's wealth should pass undivided into his elder son's
hands. At morning's dawn Katusthius departed, and two days afterwards
Dmitri quitted his mountain-home. His first care had been to purchase a
horse, long coveted by him on account of its beauty and fleetness; he
provided cartridges, and replenished his powder-horn. His accoutrements
were rich, his dress gay; his arms glittered in the sun. His long hair
fell straight from under the shawl twisted round his cap, even to his
waist; a shaggy white capote hung from his shoulder; his face wrinkled
and puckered by exposure to the seasons; his brow furrowed with care;
his mustachios long and jet black; his scarred face; his wild, savage
eyes; his whole appearance, not deficient in barbaric grace, but stamped
chiefly with ferocity and bandit pride, inspired, and we need not
wonder, the superstitious Greek with a belief that a supernatural spirit
of evil dwelt in his aspect, blasting and destroying. Now prepared for
his journey, he departed from Korvo, crossing the woods of Acarnania, on
his way to the Morea.

* * *

"Wherefore does Zella tremble, and press her boy to her bosom, as if
fearful of evil?" Thus asked Cyril Ziani, returning from the city of
Corinth to his own rural abode. It was a home of beauty. The abruptly
broken hills covered with olives, or brighter plantations of
orange-trees, overlooked the blue waves of the Gulf of Aegina. A myrtle
underwood spread sweet scent around, and dipped its dark shining leaves
into the sea itself. The low-roofed house was shaded by two enormous
fig-trees: while vineyards and corn-land stretched along the gentle
upland to the north. When Zella saw her husband, she smiled, though her
cheek was still pale and her lips quivering--"Now you are near to guard
us," she said, "I dismiss fear; but danger threatens our Constans, and I
shudder to remember that an Evil Eve has been upon him."

Cyril caught up his child--"By my head!" he cried, "thou speakest of an
ill thing. The Franks call this superstition; but let us beware. His
cheek is still rosy; his tresses flowing gold--Speak, Constans, hail thy
father, my brave fellow"

It was but a short-lived fear; no ill ensued, and they soon forgot an
incident which had causelessly made their hearts to quail. A week
afterwards Cyril returned, as he was wont, from shipping a cargo of
currants, to his retreat on the coast. It was a beautiful summer
evening; the creaking water-wheel, which produced the irrigation of the
land, chimed in with the last song of the noisy cicala; the rippling
waves spent themselves almost silently among the shingles. This was his
home; but where its lovely flower? Zella did not come forth to welcome
him. A domestic pointed to a chapel on a neighbouring acclivity, and
there he found her; his child (nearly three years of age) was in his
nurse's arms; his wife was praying fervently, while the tears streamed
down her cheeks. Cyril demanded anxiously the meaning of this scene; but
the nurse sobbed; Zella continued to pray and weep; and the boy, from
sympathy, began to cry. This was too much for man to endure. Cyril left
the chapel; he leant against a walnut-tree: his first exclamation was a
customary Greek one--Welcome this misfortune, so that it come single!"
But what was the ill that had occurred? Unapparent was it yet; but the
spirit of evil is most fatal when unseen. He was happy--a lovely wife, a
blooming child, a peaceful home, competence, and the prospect of wealth;
these blessings were his: yet how often does Fortune use such as her
decoys? He was a slave in an enslaved land, a mortal subject to the high
destinies, and ten thousand were the envenomed darts which might be
hurled at his devoted head. Now timid and trembling, Zella came from the
chapel: her explanation did not calm his fears. Again the Evil Eye had
been on his child, and deep malignity lurked surely under this second
visitation. The same man, an Arnaoot, with glittering arms, gay attire,
mounted on a black steed, came from the neighbouring ilex grove, and,
riding furiously up to the door, suddenly checked and reined in his
horse at the very threshold. The child ran towards him: the Arnaoot bent
his sinister eyes upon him:--

"Lovely art thou, bright infant," he cried; "thy blue eyes arc beaming,
thy golden tresses fair to see; but thou art a vision fleeting as
beautiful;--look at me!" The innocent looked up, uttered a shriek, and
fell gasping on the ground. The women rushed forward to seize him; the
Albanian put spurs to his horse, and galloping swiftly across the little
plain, up the wooded hill-side, he was soon lost to sight. Zella and the
nurse bore the child to the chapel, they sprinkled him with holy water,
and, as he revived, besought the Panagia with earnest prayers to save
him from the menaced ill.

Several weeks elapsed; little Constans grew in intelligence and beauty;
no blight had visited the flower of love, and its parents dismissed
fear. Sometimes Cyril indulged in a joke at the expense of the Evil Eye;
but Zella thought it unlucky to laugh, and crossed herself whenever the
event was alluded to. At this time Katusthius visited their abode. "He
was on his way," he said, "to Stamboul, and he came to know whether he
could serve his brother in any of his transactions in the capital."
Cyril and Zella received him with cordial affection: they rejoiced to
perceive that fraternal love was beginning to warm his heart. He seemed
full of ambition and hope: the brothers discussed his prospects, the
politics of Europe, and the intrigues of the Fanar: the petty affairs of
Corinth even were made subjects of discourse; and the probability that
in a short time, young as he was, Cyril would be named Codja-Bashee of
the province. On the morrow, Katusthius prepared to depart--"One favour
does the voluntary exile ask; will my brother and sister accompany me
some hours on my way to Napoli, whence I embark?"

Zella was unwilling to quit her home, even for a short interval; but she
suffered herself to be persuaded, and they proceeded altogether for
several miles towards the capital of the Morea. At noontide they made a
repast under the shadow of a grove of oaks, and then separated.
Returning homeward, the wedded pair congratulated themselves on their
tranquil life and peaceful happiness, contrasted with the wanderer's
lonely and homeless pleasures. These feelings increased in intensity as
they drew nearer their dwelling, and anticipated the lisped welcome of
their idolized child.

From an eminence they looked upon the fertile vale which was their home:
it was situated on the southern side of the isthmus, and looked upon the
Gulf of Aegina: all was verdant, tranquil, and beautiful. They descended
into the plain; there a singular appearance attracted their attention. A
plough with its yoke of oxen had been deserted midway in the furrow; the
animals had dragged it to the side of the field, and endeavoured to
repose as well as their conjunction permitted. The sun already touched
its Western bourne, and the summits of the trees were gilded by its
parting beams. All was silent; even the eternal water-wheel was still;
no menials appeared at their usual rustic labours. From the house the
voice of wailing was too plainly heard.--"My child!" Zella exclaimed.
Cyril began to reassure her; but another lament arose, and he hurried
on. She dismounted, and would have followed him, but sank on the road's
side. Her husband returned--"Courage, my beloved," he cried; "I will not
repose night or day until Constans is restored to us--trust to
me--farewell!" With these words he rode swiftly on.

Her worst fears were thus confirmed; her maternal heart, late so joyous,
became the abode of despair, while the nurse's narration of the sad
occurrence tended but to add worse fear to fear.

Thus it was: the same stranger of the Evil Eye had appeared, not as
before, bearing down on them with eagle speed, but as if from a long
journey; his horse lame and with drooping head; the Arnaoot himself
covered with dust, apparently scarcely able to keep his seat. "By the
life of your child," he said, "give a cup of water to one who faints
with thirst." The nurse, with Constans in her arms, got a bowl of the
desired liquid, and presented it. Ere the parched lips of the stranger
touched the wave, the vessel fell from his hands. The women started
back, while he, at the same moment darting forward, tore with strong arm
the child from her embrace. Already both were gone--with arrowy speed
they traversed the plain, while her shrieks, and cries for assistance,
called together all the domestics. They followed on the track of the
ravisher, and none had yet returned. Now, as night closed in, one by one
they came back; they had nothing to relate; they had scoured the woods,
crossed the hills--they could not even discover the route which the
Albanian had taken.

On the following day Cyril returned, jaded, haggard, miserable; he had
obtained no tidings of his son. On the morrow he again departed on his
quest, nor came back for several days. Zella passed her time wearily--
now sitting in hopeless despondency, now climbing the near hill to see
whether she could perceive the approach of her husband. She was not
allowed to remain long thus tranquil; the trembling domestics, left in
guard, warned her that the savage forms of several Arnaoots had been
seen prowling about: she herself saw a tall figure, clad in a shaggy
white capote, steal round the promontory, and on seeing her, shrink
back: once at night the snorting and trampling of a horse roused her,
not from slumber, but from her sense of security. Wretched as the bereft
mother was, she felt personally almost reckless of danger; but she was
not her own, she belonged to one beyond expression dear; and duty, as
well as affection for him, enjoined self-preservation. He, Cyril, again
returned: he was gloomier, sadder than before; but there was more
resolution on his brow, more energy in his motions; he had obtained a
clue, yet it might only lead him to the depths of despair.

He discovered that Katusthius had not embarked at Napoli. He had joined
a band of Arnaoots lurking about Vasilico, and had proceeded to Patras
vith the Protoklepht; thence they put off together in a monoxylon for
the northern shores of the gulf of Lepanto: nor were they alone; they
bore a child with them wrapt in a heavy torpid sleep. Poor Cyril's blood
ran cold when he thought of the spells and witchcraft which had probably
been put in practice on his boy. He would have followed close upon the
robbers, but for the report that reached him, that the remainder of the
Albanians had proceeded southward towards Corinth. He could not enter
upon a long wandering search among the pathless wilds of Epirus, leaving
Zella exposed to the attacks of these bandits. He returned to consult
with her, to devise some plan of action which at once ensured her
safety, and promised success to his endeavours.

After some hesitation and discussion, it was decided that he should
first conduct her to her native home, consult with her father as to his
present enterprise, and be guided by his warlike experience before he
rushed into the very focus of danger. The seizure of his child might
only be a lure, and it were not well for him, sole protector of that
child and its mother, to rush unadvisedly into the toils.

Zella, strange to say, for her blue eyes and brilliant complexion belied
her birth, was the daughter of a Mainote: yet dreaded and abhorred by
the rest of the world as are the inhabitants of Cape Tanarus, they are
celebrated for their domestic virtues and the strength of their private
attachments. Zella loved her father, and the memory of her rugged rocky
home, from which she had been torn in an adverse hour. Near neighbours
of the Mainotes, dwelling in the ruder and most incult portion of Mama,
are the Kakovougnis, a dark suspicious race, of squat and stunted form,
strongly contrasted with the tranquil cast of countenance characteristic
of the Mainote. The two tribes are embroiled in perpetual quarrels; the
narrow sea-girt abode which they share affords at once a secure place of
refuge from the foreign enemy, and all the facilities of internal
mountain warfare. Cyril had once, during a coasting voyage, been driven
by stress of weather into the little bay on whose shores is placed the
small town of Kardamyla. The crew at first dreaded to be captured by the
pirates; but they were reassured on finding them fully occupied by their
domestic dissensions. A band of Kakovougnis were besieging the
castellated rock overlooking Kardamyla, blockading the fortress in which
the Mainote Capitano and his family had taken refuge. Two days passed
thus, while furious contrary winds detained Cyril in the bay.

On the third evening the western gale subsided, and a land breeze
promised to emancipate them from their perilous condition; when in the
night, as they were about to put off in a boat from shore, they were
hailed a party of Mainotes, and one, an old man of commanding figure,
demanded a parley. He was the Capitano of Kardamyla, the chief of the
fortress, now attacked by his implacable enemies: he saw no escape--he
must fall--and his chief desire was to save his treasure and his family
from the hands of his enemies. Cyril consented to receive them on board:
the latter consisted of an old mother, a paramana, and a young and
beautiful girl, his daughter.

Cyril conducted them in safety to Napoli. Soon after, the Capitano's
mother and paramana returned to their native town, while, with her
father's consent, fair Zella became the wife of her preserver. The
fortunes of the Mainote had prospered since then, and he stood first in
rank, the chief of a large tribe, the Capitano of Kardamyla.

Thither then the hapless parents repaired; they embarked on board a
small sacoleva, which dropt down the Gulf of Aegina, weathered the
islands of Skvllo and Cerigo, and the extreme point of Tarus: favoured
by prosperous gales, they made the desired port, and arrived at the
hospitable mansion of old Camaraz. He heard their tale with indignation;
swore by his beard to dip his poniard in the best blood of Katusthius,
and insisted upon accompanying his son-in-law on his expedition to
Albania. No time was lost--the gray-headed mariner, still full of
energy, hastened every preparation. Cyril and Zella parted; a thousand
fears, a thousand hours of misery rose between the pair, late sharers in
perfect happiness. The boisterous sea and distant lands were the
smallest of the obstacles that divided them; they would not fear the
worst; yet hope, a sickly plant, faded in their hearts as they tore
themselves asunder after a last embrace.

Zella returned from the fertile district of Corinth to her barren native
rocks. She felt all joy expire as she viewed from the rugged shore the
lessening sails of the sacoleva. Days and weeks passed, and still she
remained in solitary and sad expectation: she never joined in the dance,
nor made one in the assemblies of her country-women, who met together at
evening-tide to sing, tell stories, and wile away the time in dance and
gaiety. She secluded herself in the most lonely part of her father's
house, and gazed unceasingly from the lattice upon the sea beneath, or
wandered on the rocky beach; and when tempest darkened the sky, and each
precipitous promontory grew purple under the shadows of the wide-winged
clouds, when the roar of the surges was on the shore, and the white
crests of the waves, seen afar upon the ocean-plain, showed like flocks
of new-shorn sheep scattered along wide-extended downs, she felt neither
gale nor inclement cold, nor returned home till recalled by her
attendants. In obedience to them she sought the shelter of her abode,
not to remain long; for the wild winds spoke to her, and the stormy
ocean reproached her tranquillity. Unable to control the impulse, she
would rush from her habitation on the cliff, nor remember, till she
reached the shore, that her papooshes were left midway on the mountain
path, and that her forgotten veil and disordered dress were unmeet for
such a scene. Often the un-numbered hours sped on, while this orphaned
child of happiness leant on a cold dark rock; the low-browed crags
beetled over her, the surges broke at her feet, her fair limbs were
stained by spray, her tresses dishevelled by the gale. Hopelessly she
wept until a sail appeared on the horizon; and then she dried her fast
flowing tears, fixing her large eves upon the nearing hull or fading
topsail. Meanwhile the storm tossed the clouds into a thousand gigantic
shapes, and the tumultuous sea grew blacker and more wild; her natural
gloom was heightened by superstitious horror; the Moirae, the old Fates
of her native Grecian soil, howled in the breezes; apparitions, which
told of her child pining under the influence of the Evil Eye, and of her
husband, the prey of some Thracian witchcraft, such as still is
practised in the dread neighbourhood of Larissa, haunted her broken
slumbers, and stalked like dire shadows across her waking thoughts. Her
bloom was gone, her eyes lost their lustre, her limbs their round full
beauty; her strength failed her, as she tottered to the accustomed spot
to watch--vainly, yet for ever to watch.

What is there so fearful as the expectation of evil tidings delayed?
Sometimes in the midst of tears, or worse, amidst the convulsive
gaspings of despair, we reproach ourselves for influencing the eternal
fates by our gloomy anticipations: then, if a smile wreathe the
mourner's quivering lip, it is arrested by a throb of agony. Alas! are
not the dark tresses of the young, painted gray; the full cheek of
beauty, delved with sad lines by the spirits of such hours? Misery is a
more welcome visitant, when she comes in her darkest guise, and wraps us
in perpetual black, for then the heart no longer sickens with
disappointed hope.

Cyril and old Camaraz had found great difficulty in doubling the many
capes of the Morea as they made a coasting expedition from Kardamyla to
the gulf of Arta, north of Cefalonia and St.

Mauro. During their voyage they had time to arrange their plans. As a
number of Moreots travelling together might attract too much attention,
they resolved to land their comrades at different points, and travel
separately into the interior of Albania: Yannina was their first place
of rendezvous. Cyril and his father-in-law disembarked in one of the
most secluded of the many creeks which diversify the winding and
precipitous shores of the gulf. Six others, chosen from the crew, would,
by other routes, join them at the capital. They did not fear for
themselves; alone, but well armed, and secure in the courage of despair,
they penetrated the fastnesses of Epirus. No success cheered them: they
arrived at Yannina without having made the slightest discovery. There
they were joined by their comrades, whom they directed to remain three
days in the town, and then separately to proceed to Tepellene, whither
they immediately directed their steps. At the first village on their way
thither, at "monastic Zitza," [*] they obtained some information, not to
direct, but to encourage their endeavours. They sought refreshment and
hospitality in the monastery which is situated on a green eminence,
crowned by a grove of oak-trees, immediately behind the village. Perhaps
there is not in the world a more beautiful or more romantic spot,
sheltered itself by clustering trees, looking out on one wide-spread
landscape of hill and dale, enriched by vineyards, dotted with frequent
flocks; while the Calamas in the depth of the vale gives life to the
scene, and the far blue mountains of Zoumerkas, Sagori, Sulli, and
Acroceraunia, to the east, wrest, north, and south, close in the various
prospects. Cyril half envied the Calovers their inert tranquillity. They
received the travellers gladly, and were cordial though simple in their
manners. When questioned concerning the object of their journey, they
warmly sympathised with the father's anxiety, and eagerly told all they
knew. Two wrecks before, an Arnaoot, vell known to them as Dmitri of the
Evil Eye, a famous Klepht of Korvo, and a Moreot, arrived, bringing with
them a child, a bold, spirited, beautiful boy, who, with firmness beyond
his years, claimed the protection of the Caloyers, and accused his
companions of having carried him off by force from his parents.--

[* Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage II. xlviii.]

"By my head!" cried the Albanian, "a brave Palikar: he keeps his word,
brother; he swore by the Panagia, in spite of our threats of throwing
him down a precipice, food for the vulture, to accuse us to the first
good men he saw: he neither pines under the Evil Eve, nor quails beneath
our menaces." Katusthius frowned at these praises, and it became evident
during their stay at the monastery, that the Albanian and the Moreot
quarrelled as to the disposal of the child. The rugged mountaineer threw
off all his sternness as he gazed upon the boy. When little Constans
slept, he hung over him, fanning away, with woman's care, the flies and
gnats. When he spoke, he answered with expressions of fondness, winning
him vith gifts, teaching him, all baby as he was, a mimicry of warlike
exercises. When the boy knelt and besought the Panagia to restore him to
his parents, his infant voice quivering, and tears running down his
cheeks, the eyes of Dmitri overflowed; he cast his cloak over his face;
his heart whispered to him--"Thus, perhaps, my child prayed. Heaven was
deaf--alas! where is she now?"--Encouraged by such signs of compassion,
which children are quick to perceive, Constans twined his arms round his
neck, telling him that he loved him, and that he would fight for him
when a man, if he would take him back to Corinth. At such words Dmitri
would rush forth, seek Katusthius, remonstrate with him, till the
unrelenting man checked him by reminding him of his vow. Still he swore
that no hair of the child's head should be injured; while the uncle,
unvisited by compunction, meditated his destruction. The quarrels which
thence arose vere frequent and violent, till Katusthius, weary of
opposition, had recourse to craft to obtain his purpose. One night he
secretly left the monastery, bearing the child with him. When Dmitri
heard of his evasion, it was a fearful thing to the good Caloyers only
to look upon him; they instinctively clutched hold of every bit of iron
on which they could lay their hands, so to avert the Evil Eye which
glared with native and untamed fierceness. In their panic a whole score
of them had rushed to the iron-plated door which led out of their abode:
with the strength of a lion, Dmitri tore them away, threw back the
portal, and, with the swiftness of a torrent fed by the thawing of the
snows in spring, he dashed down the steep hill: the flight of an eagle
not more rapid; the course of a wild beast not more resolved.

Such was the clue afforded to Cyril. It were too long to follow him in
his subsequent search; he, with old Camaraz, wandered through the vale
of Argyro-Castro, and climbed Mount Trebucci to Korvo. Dmitri had
returned; he had gathered together a score of faithful comrades, and
sallied forth again; various were the reports of his destination, and
the enterprise which he meditated.

One of these led our adventurers to Tepellene, and hence back towards
Yannina: and now chance again favoured them. They rested one night in
the habitation of a priest at the little village of Mosme, about three
leagues to the north of Zitza; and here they found an Arnaoot who had
been disabled by a fall from his horse; this man was to have made one of
Dmitri's band: they learned from him that the Arnaoot had tracked
Katusthius, following him close, and forcing him to take refuge in the
monastery of the Prophet Elias, which stands on an elevated peak of the
mountains of Sagori, eight leagues from Yannina. Dmitri had followed
him, and demanded the child. The Caloyers refused to give it up, and the
Klepht, roused to mad indignation, was now besieging and battering the
monastery, to obtain by force this object of his newly-awakened
affections.

At Yannina, Camaraz and Cyril collected their comrades, and departed to
join their unconscious ally. He, more impetuous than a mountain-stream
or ocean's fiercest waves, struck terror into the hearts of the recluses
by his ceaseless and dauntless attacks. To encourage them to further
resistance, Katusthius, leaving the child behind in the monastery,
departed for the nearest town of Sagori, to entreat its Belouk-Bashee to
come to their aid. The Sagorians are a mild, amiable, social people;
they are gay, frank, clever; their bravery is universally acknowledged,
even by the more uncivilized mountaineers of Zoumerkas; yet robbery,
murder, and other acts of violence, are unknown among them. These good
people were not a little indignant when they heard that a band of
Arnaoots was besieging and battering the sacred retreat of their
favourite Caloyers. They assembled in a gallant troop, and taking
Katusthius with them, hastened to drive the insolent Klephts back to
their ruder fastnesses. They came too late. At midnight, while the monks
prayed fervently to be delivered from their enemies, Dmitri and his
followers tore down their iron-plated door, and entered the holy
precincts. The Protoklepht strode up to the gates of the sanctuary, and
placing his hands upon it, swore that he came to save, not to destroy.
Constans saw him. With a cry of delight he disengaged himself from the
Caloyer who held him, and rushed into his arms: this was sufficient
triumph. With assurances of sincere regret for having disturbed them,
the Klepht quitted the chapel with his followers, taking his prize with
him.

Katusthius returned some hours after, and so well did the traitor plead
his cause with the kind Sagorians, bewailing the fate of his little
nephew among these evil men, that they offered to follow, and, superior
as their numbers were, to rescue the boy from their destructive hands.

Katusthius, delighted with the proposition, urged their immediate
departure. At dawn they began to climb the mountain summits, already
trodden by the Zoumerkians.

Delighted with repossessing his little favourite, Dmitri placed him
before him on his horse, and, followed by his comrades, made his way
over the elevated mountains, clothed with old Dodona's oaks, or, in
higher summits, by dark gigantic pines. They proceeded for some hours,
and at length dismounted to repose. The spot they chose was the depth of
a dark ravine, whose gloom was increased by the broad shadows of dark
ilexes; an entangled underwood, and a sprinkling of craggy isolated
rocks, made it difficult for the horses to keep their footing. They
dismounted, and sat by the little stream. Their simple fare was spread,
and Dmitri enticed the boy to eat by a thousand caresses. Suddenly one
of his men, set as a guard, brought intelligence that a troop of
Sagorians, with Katusthius as their guide, was advancing from the
monastery of St.

Elias; while another man gave the alarm of the approach of six or eight
well-armed Moreots, who were advancing on the road from Yannina; in a
moment every sign of encampment had disappeared. The Arnaoots began to
climb the hills, getting under cover of the rocks, and behind the large
trunks of the forest-trees, keeping concealed till their invaders should
be in the very midst of them. Soon the Moreots appeared, turning round
the defile, in a path that only allowed them to proceed two by two; they
were unaware of danger, and walked carelessly, until a shot that whizzed
over the head of one, striking the bough of a tree, recalled them from
their security.

The Greeks, accustomed to the same mode of warfare, betook themselves
also to the safeguards of the rocks, firing from behind them, striving
with their adversaries which should get to the most elevated station;
jumping from crag to crag, and dropping down and firing as quickly as
they could load: one old man alone remained on the pathway. The mariner,
Camaraz, had often encountered the enemy on the deck of his caick, and
would still have rushed foremost at a boarding, but this warfare
required too much activity. Cyril called on him to shelter himself
beneath a low, broad stone: the Mainote waved his hand. "Fear not for
me," he cried; "I know how to die!"--The brave love the brave. Dmitri
saw the old man stand, unflinching, a mark for all the balls, and he
started from behind his rocky screen, calling on his men to cease. Then
addressing his enemy, he cried, "Who art thou? wherefore art thou here?
If ye come in peace, proceed on your way. Answer, and fear not!"

The old man drew himself up, saying, "I am a Mainote, and cannot fear.
All Hellas trembles before the pirates of Cape Matapan, and I am one of
these! I do not come in peace! Behold! you have in your arms the cause
of our dissension! I am the grandsire of that child--give him to me!"

Dmitri, had he held a snake, which he felt awakening in his bosom, could
not so suddenly have changed his cheer:--"the offspring of a
Mainote!"--he relaxed his grasp;--Constans would have fallen had he not
clung to his neck. Meanwhile each party had descended from their rocky
station, and were grouped together in the pathway below. Dmitri tore the
child from his neck; he felt as if he could, with savage delight, dash
him down the precipice--when, as he paused and trembled from excess of
passion, Katusthius, and the foremost Sagorians, came down upon them.

"Stand!" cried the infuriated Arnaoot. "Behold Katusthius! behold,
friend, whom I, driven by the resistless fates, madly and wickedly
forswore! I now perform thy wish--the Mainote child dies! the son of the
accursed race shall be the victim of my just revenge!"

Cyril, in a transport of fear, rushed up the rock; he levelled his
musket, but he feared to sacrifice his child. The old Mainote, less
timid and more desperate, took a steady aim; Dmitri saw the act, and
hurled the dagger, already raised against the child, at him--it entered
his side--while Constans, feeling his late protector's grasp relax,
sprung from it into his father's arms.

Camaraz had fallen, yet his wound was slight. He saw the Arnaoots and
Sagorians close round him; he saw his own followers made prisoners.
Dmitri and Katusthius had both thrown themselves upon Cyril, struggling
to repossess themselves of the screaming boy. The Mainote raised
himself--he was feeble of limb, but his heart was strong; he threw
himself before the father and child; he caught the upraised arm of
Dmitri. "On me," he cried, "fall all thy vengeance! I of the evil race!
for the child, he is innocent of such parentage! Maina cannot boast him
for a son!"

"Man of lies!" commenced the infuriated Arnaoot, "this falsehood shall
not stead thee!"

"Nay, by the souls of those you have loved, listen!" continued Camaraz.
"and if I make not good my words, may I and my children die! The boy's
father is a Corinthian, his mother, a Sciote girl!"

"Scio!" the very word made the blood recede to Dmitri's heart.
"Villain!" he cried, dashing aside Katusthius's arm, which was raised
against poor Constans, 'I guard this child--dare not to injure him!
Speak, old man, and fear not, so that thou speakest the truth."

"Fifteen years ago," said Camaraz, "I hovered with my caick, in search
of prey, on the coast of Scio. A cottage stood on the borders of a
chestnut wood, it was the habitation of the widow of a wealthy
islander--she dwelt in it with her only daughter, married to an
Albanian, then absent;--the good woman was reported to have a concealed
treasure in her house--the girl herself would be rich spoil--it was an
adventure worth the risk. We ran our vessel up a shady creek, and, on
the going down of the moon, landed; stealing under the covert of night
towards the lonely abode of these women."--Dmitri grasped at his
dagger's hilt--it was no longer there; he half drew a pistol from his
girdle--little Constans, again confiding in his former friend, stretched
out his infant hands and clung to his arm; the Klepht looked on him,
half yielded to his desire to embrace him, half feared to be deceived;
so he turned away, throwing his capote over his face, veiling his
anguish, controlling his emotions, till all should be told. Camaraz
continued:

"It became a worse tragedy than I had contemplated. The girl had a
child--she feared for its life, and struggled with the men like a
tigress defending her young. I was in another room seeking for the
hidden store, when a piercing shriek rent the air--I never knew what
compassion was before--this cry went to my heart--but it was too late,
the poor girl had sunk to the ground, the life-tide oozing from her
bosom. I know not why, but I turned woman in my regret for the slain
beauty. I meant to have carried her and her child on board, to see if
aught could be done to save her, but she died ere we left the shore. I
thought she would like her island rave best, and truly feared that she
might turn vampire to haunt me, did I carry her away; so we left her
corse for the priests to bury, and carried off the child, then about two
years old. She could say few words except her own name, that was Zella,
and she is the mother of this boy!"

* * *

A succession of arrivals in the bay of Kardamyla had kept poor Zella
watching for many nights. Her attendant had, in despair of ever seeing
her sleep again, drugged with opium the few eates she persuaded her to
eat, but the poor woman did not calculate on the power of mind over
body, of love over every enemy, physical or moral, arrayed against it.
Zella lay on her couch, her spirit somewhat subdued, but her heart
alive, her eves unclosed. In the night, led by some unexplained impulse,
she crawled to her lattice, and saw a little sacoleva enter the bay; it
ran in swiftly, under favour of the wind, and was lost to her sight
under a jutting crag. Lightly she trod the marble floor of her chamber;
she drew a large shawl close round her; she descended the rocky pathway,
and reached, with swift steps, the beach--still the vessel was
invisible, and she was half inclined to think that it was the offspring
of her excited imagination--yet she lingered.

She felt a sickness at her very heart whenever she attempted to move,
and her eyelids weighed down in spite of herself. The desire of sleep at
last became irresistible; she lay down on the shingles, reposed her head
on the cold, hard pillow, folded her shawl still closer, and gave
herself up to forgetfulness.

So profoundly did she slumber under the influence of the opiate, that
for many hours she was insensible of any change in her situation. By
degrees only she awoke, by degrees only became aware of the objects
around her; the breeze felt fresh and free--so was it ever on the
wave-beaten coast; the waters rippled near, their dash had been in her
ears as she yielded to repose; but this was not her stony couch, that
canopy, not the dark overhanging cliff. Suddenly she lifted up her
head--she was on the deck of a small vessel, which was skimming swiftly
over the ocean-waves--a cloak of sables pillowed her head; the shores
of Cape Matapan were to her left, and they steered right towards the
noonday sun. Wonder rather than fear possessed her: with a quick hand
she drew aside the sail that veiled her from the crew--the dreaded
Albanian was sitting close at her side, her Constans cradled in his
arms--she uttered a cry--Cyril turned at the sound, and in a moment she
was folded in his embrace.


THE END




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