And yet, had he but known it, that was very nearly what had
happened. When Mattina, worn out with crying, had sunk down on the
floor against the door, sobbing out every now and then, “My mother,
my manitsa,” she suddenly heard a very low muffled knocking which
seemed to come from the other side of the room. At first she took no
heed. It was someone, she supposed, in the next house; she had often
heard people moving there. But it came again, a soft little knock
repeated twice; then her name just whispered.
“Mattina! Mattina! Are you there?”
The voice was Kyra Polyxene’s, she was quite sure, but from where did
it come? She crossed the little room. The knock was quite clear now.
“But where are you, Kyra Polyxene?”
“Now you will see; can you hear what I say?”
“Yes, I hear you.”
“Move your mattress!”
“What did you say?”
“I dare not speak any louder; move your mattress away from the wall!”
Mattina seized hold of the heavy straw mattress with both hands,
and dragged it aside.
“Have you done it?”
Then slowly, very slowly, a narrow door painted exactly the same color
as the rest of the room, with no handle, no crack even to show its
outline or to distinguish it from the surrounding wall, a door which
Mattina had certainly never seen before, was pushed open from the
other side and Kyra Polyxene’s kind old face appeared in the opening.
“Not a word!” she whispered, with a finger on her lips. “Not a word
for your life! Come!”
Mattina was very bewildered.
“Where shall I come? How did you get in?”
“Hush! Lest they hear us from below. Once this was all one big house,
and when they made it two, they left this door. It was all painted
over, and no one knew; but I remembered. Wait!” and she came right
in. “Give me your coverlet! See I will hang it over the opening, so
… because now that I have opened the door, when it is light they will
see that the paint has cracked. And before that lazy mistress of yours
takes the coverlet down to shake it, many days will pass. Come! Why
are you waiting?”
“Kyra Polyxene,” said Mattina, “they all tell lies! I never saw
“And for that, will you stay here and let them take you and lock you
There was a loud knocking at the door below.
Mattina clung desperately to Kyra Polyxene’s skirts.
“Do you hear?”
“I hear,” said the old woman grimly. “Come, I tell you! Come!”
She pushed Mattina first through the half-open door and followed,
closing it softly behind her and turning a rusty key on the other
side. They were standing in a small dark room filled with cases
and lighted by one candle. Kyra Polyxene took up the candle. Then
she clasped Mattina’s hand tightly in hers, and together, treading
very softly, they crossed a long narrow passage outside the room,
passed through a glass door, went down a flight of stone steps into
a cellar where piles of wood were stacked, and then went up three or
four steps again to a little back door that opened on the pavement.
The night air that blew in their faces felt fresh and cool.
“Listen, my daughter!” said the old woman. “Now you go straight
to your uncle’s house! You know the way. If to-morrow dawns well,
I will come and tell you what is happening. Go! Run! And the Holy
Virgin be with you!”
At that moment loud voices came to them from the open window of the
house which they had just left. Mattina thought she caught her name,
and then she heard her master say very distinctly:–
“Go upstairs, now!…” but she did not hear the end of the sentence.
The men of the police must have come, and they were going upstairs
to look for her!
Without a word, she dragged her hand from the old woman’s and ran
wildly down the dark street.
She ran on and on, panting, stumbling, falling, picking herself up
again, her plaits of hair which had come loose in the struggle with
her mistress flying behind her. When she came out to the Piræus Road,
where a few people were still about, she stopped, and leaning against
a lamp post, tried with trembling fingers to tie up her hair.
To her uncle’s! No! She would not go there!
She had not had time to explain to Kyra Polyxene that her master knew
where the baker’s shop was. He had asked her one day. And of course
it was there they would search for her at once. No, no! Not to her
uncle’s! But where then? Where?
She tried hard to remember where Antigone had said that her brother
lived. Perhaps she would hide her; she knew how bad mistresses could
be! But try as she would, she could not remember. Athens names were
all new and strange to her.
And there was no one else.
Perhaps she could walk about all night, or sit down on a bench? But
when it dawned, what then? Suddenly she heard running steps in the
street behind her and loud voices, … men’s voices. Was the one
her master’s? She looked wildly round like a trapped thing and once
more started running, as she had never run before, down the middle of
the broad road. Every moment it seemed as if a hand were grasping her
shoulder. She flew past the lighted grocer’s shop where they might know
her, and her head struck against the open shutter, but she did not feel
the pain. On she ran, her breath coming in loud gasps, and great throbs
beating in her throat. She heard steps again…. Were they behind her?
Suddenly, under a lamp post, she came into violent contact with a big
man, who was walking leisurely before her, his hands crossed behind
his back, fiddling with a short string of black beads.
He caught hold of the lamp post to save himself from falling and
“Who falls in this way on people? Have you gone mad, my girl? One
would think someone was hunting you.”
It was a Poros voice, and Mattina clung desperately to the baggy blue
breeches of Thanassi Nika, as the old sea-captain bent over her.
“They are! They are!” she cried wildly, “they are hunting me! Save
me! Save me! And may all your dead become saints!”
“Why? Why? What is happening here? Are you not Aristoteli Dorri’s
daughter? Who is hunting you?”
“The people of the house; the master … the mistress … they have
called the men of the police; they will put me in prison!”
“What have you done?” asked the old man sharply.
“I have done nothing. On the soul of my father, I have taken nothing
of theirs. But money was lost, and they say I took it. Save me! Take
me from here!”
Capetan Thanassi looked up and down the road.
Farther up towards the grocer’s shop two or three men seemed hurrying
towards them, but just at that moment a bright light flashed in
their eyes, and a street car going to the square came to a stop a
few paces away.
The old man lifted Mattina bodily to the step and followed her. The
little platform was crowded, and as they stood there tightly wedged
between many people, he put his finger on his lips so that Mattina
should keep silent. Almost at once in the big lighted square they got
down again, and before Mattina had time to think where they might be
going, she had been run across the road, down a broad street, through
a crowded waiting-room, down an endless flight of stone steps, and
was seated once more in a railway carriage, which started almost as
soon as Capetan Thanassi threw himself down puffing and panting on
the seat beside her.
“Well,” he said, wiping his forehead with a big red handkerchief,
“it is not a good thing to be hunted and to run; but to let these
Athenians, here, seize hold of Aristoteli Dorri’s daughter, and call
her a thief! That could not be! Now, listen to me, little one! If
you have done anything crooked, that is between God and your soul,
but for me it is sufficient that I knew your father. My caique
leaves to-night, now, with the turn of the wind. I shall put you in
it and take you back to your own country, and once there,… we shall
see what can be done.”
Mattina had seized his hand and was kissing it.
“To my own island? To Poros? God make your years many, Capetan
Thanassi, for this that you are doing for me!”