Page images

insists, he made his money by publishing Bibles without reading them, which I think doubtful—not doubtful that he did not read them, but that he is going to the Holy Land in consequence. I think he is going because he knows the Apostle is going—and the Doctor, and the game of piquet. Those are reasons enough for the Colonel. He is ready at a moment's notice to follow that combination around the world.

But if we no longer have services on these sea Sundays we have other features. The Music-Master plays for us, if encouraged, and he gave us a lecture this afternoon. It was on ancient music, or art, or archæology, I am not sure which. I listened attentively and I am pretty sure it was one of those things. He is a delightful old soul and his German is the best I ever heard. If I could have about ten years' steady practice, twelve hours a day, I think I could understand some of it.

The “Widow" entertains us too. She belongs to the Genoa contingent, and is one of those European polyglots who speak every continental language and make a fair attempt at English. It is her naïveté and unfailing good-nature that divert us. She approached one of our American ladies who wears black.

“You a widow, not?” she said.
“Oh no, I am not a widow."
“Ah, then mebbe you yus' divorce, like me.”

We get along well with the Europeans. Our captain tells us he has never seen the nations mix more harmoniously, which means that we are a good lot, altogether, which is fortunate enough.

But I am prone to run on about the ship and our travellers and forget graver things; I ought to be writing about Greece, I suppose, and of the wonders we are going to see, to-morrow, in Athens. I would do it, only I haven't read the guide-book yet, and then I have a notion that Greece has been done before. The old Quaker City was quarantined and did not land her people in Greece (except two parties who went by night), and the “Innocents” furnishes only that fine description of the Acropolis by moonlight.

But a good many other excursionists have landed there, and most of them have told about it, in one way and another. Now it is my turn, but I shall wait. I have already waited a long time for Athens—I do not need to begin the story just yet. Instead I have come out here on deck to look across to Peloponnesus, which has risen out of the sea, a long gray shore, our first sight of the mainland where heroes battled and mythology was born.

I expected the shores of Greece would look like that -bleak, barren, and forbidding. I don't know why, but that was my thought-perhaps because the nation itself has lost the glory of its ancient days. The Music-Master is looking at it too. It means more to him than to most of us, I imagine. As he looks over to that gray shore he is seeing in his vision a land where there was once a Golden Age, when the groves sang with Orpheus and the reeds with Pan, while nymphs sported in hidden pools or tripped lightly in the dappled shade.

To-morrow he will go mad, I think, for we shall anchor at Athens, in the Bay of Phaleron.



THERE were low voices on the deck, just outside

I my port-hole. I realized that it was morning then; also that the light was coming in and that we were lying at anchor. I was up by that time. It was just at the first sunrising, and the stretch of water between the ship and the shore had turned a pinkish hue. Beyond it were some buildings, and above the buildings, catching the first glint of day on its structured heights, rose a stately hill.'

The Amiable Girl (I have mentioned her before, I believe) and a companion were leaning over the ship's rail, trying to distinguish outlines, blended in the vague morning light. The Amiable Girl was peering through a binocular, and I caught the words “Parthenon” and “Caryatides”; then to her companion, “Take the glass.”

Which the other girl did, and, after gazing steadily for a moment, said:

“Yes! Oh yes, indeed — I can see them now, quite distinctly!”

And then, even with my naked eye, I could make out certain details of that historic summit we have travelled so far to see. Three miles away, perhaps, the Acropolis arose directly in front of us—its columned crown beginning to glow and burn in answer to the old, old friend that has awakened it to glory, morning after morning, century after century, for a full twenty-three hundred years.

The light came fast now, and with my glass I could bring the hilltop near. I could make out the Parthenon-also the Temple of Victory, I thought, and those marble women who have seen races pass and nations crumble, and religions fade back into fable and the realm of shades. It was all aglow, presently—a vision! So many wonderful mornings, we have had, but none like this. Nor can there be so many lives that hold in them a sunrise on the Acropolis from the Bay of Phaleron.

I lost no time in getting on deck, but it seemed that everybody was there ahead of me. They were strung along the rail, and each one had his glass, or his neighbor's, and was pointing and discoursing and argufying and having a beautiful time. The Diplomat was holding forth on the similarity of modern and ancient Greek, and was threatening to use the latter on the first victim that came within range. The Patriarch, who is religious when he happens to think about it, was trying to find Mars Hill, where St. Paul preached; the Credulous One was pointing out to everybody Lykabettos Hill as Mt. Ararat (information obtained from the Horse-Doctor), while the Apostle and the Colonel were quarrelling fiercely over a subject which neither of them knew anything about—the rise of Christianity in Greece.

I got into a row myself, presently, with one of the boys, just because I happened to make some little classical allusion-I have forgotten what it was now, and I didn't seem to know much about it then, from what he said. We were all stirred up with knowledge, brought face to face with history, as we were, and bound to unload it on somebody. Only the Music-Master wasn't. A little apart from any group, he stood clutching the rail, his face shining with a light that was not all of the morning, gazing in silence at his hill of dreams.

We went ashore in boats that had pretty Greek rugs in them, and took a little train on which all the cars were smoking-cars (there are no other kind in Greece), and we looked out the windows trying to imagine we were really in Greece where once the gods dwelt; where Homer sang and Achilles fought; where the first Argonauts set sail for the Golden Fleece. I wish we could have met those voyagers before they started. They wouldn't have needed to go then. They could have taken the Golden Fleece off of this crowd if they had anything to sell in that Argosy of theirs, and their descendants are going to do it yet. I know from the conversation that is going on behind me. The Mill and a lot of her boon companions are doing the talking, and it is not of the classic ruins we are about to see, but of the lace they bought in Malta and Gibraltar, and of the embroidery they are going to buy in Greece.

Our chariots were waiting at the station-carriages, I mean, nice modern ones—and we were started in a minute, and suddenly there was the Theseum, the best preserved of Greek ruins, I believe, right in front of us, though we did not stop for it then. But it was startling—that old, discolored temple standing

« PreviousContinue »