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and answering at once to them all, he drew his sword, and pointed with it to the Hellenic flag, which had just been unfurled.
" It is well," said Vasili, who under stood his meaning, “since you are thus devoted to our country's cause, we accept your services, Rayah Petros, and you shall share our doubtful fate!"
But as he spoke, an ironical smile passed over his lips, as he thought how easily the last spark of life would be extinguished in that aged breast. Floros, meanwhile, who had looked almost in terror on the feeble, infirm old man, self-doomed to speedy des. truction from that hour, now mur. mured, as he yielded to his embrace
“ My mother--my poor, forsaken mother!"
There was a mild reproach in these words, which seemed to sink deep into the heart of the zealous patriot, for he bent down before his son almost in an attitude of humility, unfitting in a fa ther. Floros, who, brave and ardent as he was, had as gentle a spirit as ever was called on to struggle through this rough world, at once forbore to utter another word which might pain him, but he mournfully exclaimed
“ And you, too--oh! my father, must this be? Have we not been feed. ing death with all our best and dear est ? Must I now see you, too, come to be his voluntary prey ?-must you, in your last declining years, reap only strife and torture from all the seeds you have sown in toil and labour through your life? Let me, indeed, go forth to combat and to die ; but surely rest and peace are your just portion now ?"
The feeble old man would only answer by raising his head, and looking on him with a firm and resolute countenance, which spoke of the most stern determination. Floros sighed deeply, but attempted no further opposition. He stretched out his hand over his father's bent and palsied frame
“I take heaven to witness," he said, looking up, “ that the life which you have given me I now restore; till mine is spent, no violence shall extinguish yours; the youth and strength which time has stolen from you, shall be replaced by mine. I gave myself to Greece, but a higher and holier claim is before me now; yet will l
perform both those blessed tasks, so help me, Heaven! And I will live for you till you no longer shall require my life, and then will I die for my dear country."
And faithfully did Floros keep his solemn resolution from that hour; no lover, watching in the midst of peril over his new-made bride, could have rivalled him in the unremitting care and tenderness with which he ministered to that old man, and all the ardour at once of his youth and patriotism seemed to have subsided into the calm, holy obedience with which he performed the task he had appointed to himself.
It had been arranged, as it was now absolutely necessary that the Philel. lenists should hurry on to Messalonghi without delay, that they should merely land Lester and Cyllene at Argos, and then proceed onwards ; while the Eng. lishman proposed to deliver up his young charge to her mother, and then follow them in the first Greek vessel which should leave Nauplia.
The Englishman found, to his great regret, on disembarking at this place with the young slave, that he must separate from Manouk, whom Vasili stil considered as his prisoner, and would not consent to lose sight of. He had no reason, however, to think that he should require his services. The aged mother of Cyllene had told him that she would now take up her abode as near as possible to the chapel of St. Sophia, on Mount Chaon, in order that, night and day, she might supplicate before its altar for the success of his enterprise. The distance from Nauplia to this spot is by no means great, and it was soon performed at the steady, rapid pace of the camel, which was the usual mode of convey: ance in those days, and the sun had not yet set when Lester and Cyllene reached the church.
This little chapel is one of the most interesting in Greece. It is placed at a considerable height on the mountain side, and built in the interior of a cavern, which formerly was dedicated to Bacchus, so that in the ancient niches, where the votive offerings to the Heathen deity were placed, the sacred symbols of the Christian falta are now displayed.
The Englishman left the young Greek kneeling on the altar steps,
ble for her reason, but to all his expostulations she would only answer, by shrieking out,
" My mother is dead I let her grave be mine!"
Suddenly, as Lesterstood gazing mournfully at her, the door of the par. tition which concealed that more sacred portion of the church, which is entered by priests alone, was thrown open, and a tall, stately-looking monk passed from the sanctuary, and stood before them. He was a man, no longer young-his dark, stern countenance nearly hid in his veil; but Lester thought he had never looked on a more noble or commanding figure. Extending his hand over the prostrate mourner, he said, in a voice so severe and sonorous that it seemed to roll through the silent
the act of uttering a fervent thanksgiving for her deliverance, while he hastened himself towards a few hovels he perceived at some distance, in order to obtain some tidings of the old wo man, whom he had confidently expect. ed to find at her devotions. He had no difficulty in gaining intelligence of her at the first hut where he inquired; but his consternation may be imagined when he was informed that the poor mother, worn out with her fasts and constant vigils, as much as by anxiety and grief, had been found dead on the stone-floor of the church a few days previously.
Lester felt as though he were destined to have death tracking his steps go where he would, but his distress and perplexity were extreme, as he began to retrace his steps along the mountain path. It seemed as though he had but rescued the poor young orphan from her hated slavery, to see her cast adrift upon a world she was all too sensitive and pure to combat with. He knew well that she had not a friend on this earth but himself, and yet, willing as he would have been to care for, and protect her, it seemed impossible that he should do so. Had he been less wedded in heart and soul to the cherished dead, he might have cast aside all other considerations to offer her a home with him ; but the very idea was revolting to him now, and as he slowly entered the church, he could but hope that the young girl might herself suggest some place for her future residence.
The quick-eyed Greek gave but one glance to the sad countenance of the Englishman, and springing forward, with her hands clasped wildly, and her whole frame trembling, she exclaimed
“ My mother is dead! I know it! I know it! I read it in your eyes."
Lester could only acknowledge the truth, and then, unacustomed as he was to the Greek character, he stood perfectly terrified at the storm of passionate lamentation to which the young girl gave way at once. There is, for the children of this burning clime, no medium between sorrow and despair, nor is there any demonstration of grief too vehement for their uncontrollable feelings; and Cyllene lay writhing on the ground before him, with a violence which made him trem
“ Who is this, that dares to weep the human dead, when our own most holy faith is dying in the hearts of Greeks—and who shall dare to mourn over a mortal grave, when the cross, the sacred cross itself, lies buried now beneath the tyrant's throne?"
Nothing can exceed the reverence which the Hellenic people at all times pay to their priests, and this stern rebuke mastered even the agony of the young Cyllene. Lifting up her head from the ground, she remained kneel. ing, and clasping the monk's robe in her trembling hands, she murmured in a broken voice
“Me sin chorite patera" (forgive me father).
The monk raised her, and asked in a gentle tone, what was the cause of her frantic sorrow. Cyllene trembled too much to answer, and would have fallen, if the monk had not placed her on a stone seat in the outer porch-whilst Lester, too glad to have found one likely to be so able and suitable an adviser, drew him aside, and explained to him all that had occurred, not excepting even the individual feelings, which rendered it so impossible for him to give her the best claim to his protection. Although the impassive face of the monk had been tutored to exhibit not a trace of the dark world of thought within, yet it was evident by his manner that he was greatly interested in the history of the young slave, as well as pleased with the frankness and sincerity of her English
friend-the circumstances of his own life, of which a record has been else. where given,* rendered him keenly alive to the bitterness which there was for Lester in the thought of any un. faithfulness to the dead; and after silently considering for a few minutes the difficulties of his position, he at last proposed an expedient, which was, in fact, the best that could be adopted under the circumstances.
To leave the gentle Cyllene alone at Argos or Nauplia, he said, was not to be thought of, as she could only there have the protection of persons to whom she was bound by no tie, and whose interests in her must be altogether subservient to their cupidity-her fate might thus be tenfold worse than that from which the Eng, lishman had rescued her that she should become the wife of Lester, was equally impossible ; but she might according to a very prevalent custom in Greece become his sister, in the sight of heaven as well as in the eyes of men, by one of the most sacred rites of the Greek church. Lester was well aware of the existence of this ancient and singular law, still in full force in the East, which constitutes two persons, by a solemn religious ceremony, brother and sister, or brothers as the case may be, and binds them legally to one another by this fraternal tie, in so distinct and posi. tive a manner, that even their children cannot intermarry, as, being considered first cousins, they are within the forbidden degree of relationship. So sacred and binding is this strange union considered in those countries, that it has never been known to have been violated in any way; and al. though Lester could not doubt that such a project would have seemed very wild and romantic in his own country, yet as he knew that here it did actually give him a due and legal right to offer a home to this poor orphan, and retain her under his own protection, he at once acceded to the proposal, and begged the monk to al. low him, without delay, to take advantage of his presence in order to pronounce the irrevocable vows which constitute this indissoluble bond.
They found Cyllene more composed, and she heard with rapture of the plan they had arranged for her, as no small amount of bitterness had been added to her natural grief, by the conviction that she was now utterly desolate.
They returned into the church, where one faintly-glimmering lamp alone lit up this singular scene, as the stern monk dictated to the strangely assorted companions kneeling before him, the solemn oath by which they swore to be to one another from that hour to their life's end, brother and sister in very deed and truth, nothing more and nothing less; and vowing, as they hoped for the favour of heaven, to perform to each other all the duties which would have been incumbent on them, had they indeed been born of the same parents. When the ceremony was over, and the monk had pronounced over them the blessing of the Holy Church, he directed them where to find shelter for the night, and then took his leave, promising to meet them again at Messalonghi, whither all were now hastening to be present at the final and swift-approaching struggle. The very next day Lester succeeded in obtaining a passage thither in a Greek brig, from whose crew he learned that the Ottonian forces were rapidly advancing on the town, and that every preparation was making for a siege, likely to terminate, one way or another, this long protracted and eventful war. Cyllene of course accompanied her newly-found brother, for it was better for her to be with him among the terrors of the strife, than exposed to the chances of a recapture at Argos.
Scarcely had the brig, after a prosperous voyage, stood in towards the town of Messalonghi, when a boat put off from the shore, in which Lester at once descried his faithful Manouk hastening to ascertain whether he were on board. Their meeting was quite that of old and tried friends, and it was not until Manouk had repeated again and again that he was willing to bestow upon his dear Ghiaour-whom in spite of himself he loved - his eyes or the last hour of his
* The history of this monk was given in the numbers of the DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for May and June, 1817, under the title of " Neophytus, the Monk."
life, or any other valuable property he might possess, that he would con. sent to inform the anxious crew as to the existing state of matters. The position of affairs, according to his account, was this: Messalonghi, a somewhat insignificant looking town, situated on the edge of a marshy place, and surrounded by the high hills of Zygos, was at present garrisoned by a most gallant assemblage of Acarna. nians, Etolians, and Epirotes, amount. ing to nearly 5,000 combatants, whose extraordinary bravery and unflinching endurance were destined to call forth the admiration of all Europe_but what were these to the army of 20,000 men, who were now hastening to assail them, under the command of one of the most able generals which Turkey ever knew, and who seemed to have turned all the pertinacity and firmness of his character into the one stern resolution of subduing and destroying utterly this long-coveted town.
Messalonghi was, in fact, considered by the sultan as the very stronghold of rebellion, which, could he once obtain, he believed it would be the means of delivering up to him the whole country. Furious at the defeat of the cowardly Omer Vriones during the last siege, he had now appointed Reshid Pasha, his prime minister, to the command of the imperial troops, investing him with unlimited authority over the western provinces of the empire, and supplying him with an ample treasure from the government stores. In addition to this, one of his naval commanders was occupied at Alexan. dria in hastening the equipment of the Egyptian fleet, who were to send troops as a reinforcement, and also to oppose the proceedings by sea of the Greek admiral Miaulis. In short, the garrison of Messalonghi seemed to await the assault of the whole combined forces of the Ottoman empire ; and they well knew that from Reshid Pasha they must expect no mercy, for he was as cruel and treacherous as he was intelligent and brave. Calmly, however, they had employed them. selves in increasing their means of defence, and strengthening the citadel, under the directions principally of Lord Byron.
“And now," continued Manouk, “I have to tell you of the heaviest blow that has befallen your country, even
amid all her sufferings-a blow so sudden and so irreparable, that I myself, true Moslem as I am, could not rejoice at it. A few days after we had landed here, there was a riot in the town. A Swiss was accidentally killed by a Souliote; and when he was taken up, his countrymen flew to arms to defend him, and would have caused much bloodshed in the town. The troops were ordered out in vain ; nor would they heed the voice of their commanders. I was with Vasili in the midst of the confusion, and saw it all. The authorities at last became anxious for the safety of the town, and were greatly perplexed in their wish to find some means of quelling the tumult without loss of life. Suddenly there came one riding down the street on his jet-black horse, calm and composed as though the tumultuous crowd around him had assembled for rejoicing. He turned round his face, and those who looked upon it once never forgot it-his pale and beautiful faceand stretched out his hand towards the rebellious troops. They paused in their strife to look on him. Then he spoke, in a voice like music, and commanded them to be still, and not to waste in vain disputings the strength and life they soon must lavish on the enemy. He told them, if they proved thus unworthy of their country-if Greeks thus turned against Greecehe would abandon them, and return to die in his own far distant land. Then, at these words, with one shout they flung down their arms, and called out,
Zeto Byron' (long live Byron); and he smiled upon the enthusiastic sol. diers with a sweet and gentle smile, that would have won their hearts if they had not half worshipped him already, and then rode back to his house in peace.
“It was but one week after this, when the sun rose one morning as though shrouded in a thick, dark pall, and all things, even at the early dawn, portended a most awful storm--clouds black as night hung over the city, spreading themselves out above it like a mourning veil—the sea moaned and writhed, as though some dread stern spirit were making a pathway of its billows to advance upon the town, and the ill-omened birds which haunt the graveyards came hovering and shriek ing round our streets. You know wel how unusual is a tempest at this season, and all men said that some great evil was at hand. Still the storm delayed its approach, though it sat brooding in the burdened heavens as though it waited for its hour to come. The day was that following the Anastasin (or Resurrection, Easter- Monday), but no one dared rejoice as Christians are wont, because of these portentous signs of coming ill. At length, one hour before the sunset, the sky so black and lowering was rent by one tremen dous flash of dazzling lightning, and a peal of thunder, so loud and awful that it seemed rolling up from the very depths of the unseen world, burst over Messalonghi with a fearful sound. Just as it died away, there rose among its echoes one long shriek from a house round which thousands of watchers were assembled, and the cry went through the city that Byron had ex pired at that terrific moment.
“ And so it was. In the midst of
that extraordinary tempest the poetspirit had been summoned forth, and for many days there was weeping and wailing through the land for the un. timely fate of the noble Frank stranger, such as had never been wrung from the stout Greek hearts, even when they saw their own devoted dead falling round them before the blast of war, like autumn leaves driven earthward by the wind.”
W hen Manouk had given his account of this public misfortune, he concluded by informning his listeners that Reshid Pasha and his tremendous army had penetrated into Acarnania some days previous to their arrival, and might Therefore hourly be expected. Every preparation was now complete. To the Philellenists, he said, had been given, at their own request, the most difficult post of any, which was the defence of the powder magazine, and thither he now conducted Lester and his young adopted sister.
CHAPTER VII.-THE SIEGE OF MESSALONGHI.
Two days later, the Greeks looked down from their ramparts on the countless hosts of their foe. Far as their sight could reach, they saw the standard of the Crescent waving, and all around them the Turkish vessels lay thick on the sea. A skirmish took place immediately, during which the Moslems threw a number of shells among the besieged with such good aim, that they commenced at the same time as extraordinary a siege as Eu rope ever witnessed, and the frightful sufferings which it entailed on the Messalonghiotes, who were destined to see them as they burst destroy a number of persons, and those principally helpless females.
It were tedious and uninteresting, even if our space allowed, were we to give the details of this celebrated blockade during the first ten months. With the usual variation incident to such a combat, it presents ever the same aspect-displaying, on the part of the Turks, a resolute, constant, and positive determination, not only to achieve the entire subjugation of the place, but its actual destruction; and on the side of the Greeks, a firm and most devoted constancy in its defence, and that without the slightest hope;
for it was evident to all that there was no possible termination to the siege which would not involve their total overthrow. Nor was it themselves alone whose utter ruin was at hand, but their wives and children, their infirm and aged-all, in short, whom the town contained, must perish with them. Reshid Pasha had given them a means of calculating what amount of mercy he was likely to bestow on them, by causing a priest, two women, and several children, who were caught attempting to escape from the city of famine, to be impaled before bis camp! But, with no other prospect save that of certain death before them, they swore, if need be, to bury themselves in the ruins of their home, but never to desert their post.
Three several times during this fearfully-protracted strife their provisions had failed them entirely, and three times the whole population were saved from a death of famine through the unflinching bravery of the admiral, Miaulis, who remained in the most dauntless manner in the roadstead, though surrounded by Turkish ships, and who succeeded, by exploits of singular daring, in conveying grain into the town. The Moslems, however,