A menacing murmur, which was a bad augury, greeted my arrival. Hadgi-Stavros, with pale and contracted brow, walked up to me, seized me by the left wrist, and
dragged me so violently that he dislocated my arm. He threw me into the middle of the circle with such force, that I almost fell on my victim; I instantly recoiled.
“Look!” he cried in thundering tones, “look at what you have done! rejoice in your work; gaze upon your crime! Wretch! but where would you have stopped? Who would
have said, the day I received you here, that I had opened my door to an assassin?”
I stammered some excuses; I tried to show the judge that I was guilty only of imprudence. I warmly accused myself of having intoxicated my guardian in order to
escape his watchfulness, and to flee without hindrance from my prison; but I defended myself from the crime of assassinating him. Was it my fault if the rise of
waters drowned him an hour after my departure? The proof that I had wished him no evil, was that I had not stabbed him when he was dead drunk, and that I had his
weapons at hand. They could wash the body and see that he was not wounded.
“At least,” the King replied, “confess that your act was very selfish and very culpable! When your life was not threatened, when you were held here for only a
small sum, you fled through avarice; you thought only of saving a few écus, and you did not trouble yourself about this poor unfortunate whom you left to die! You
never thought of me! that you were going to deprive me of a valuable officer! And what moment did you choose to betray us? The day on which all kinds of troubles
assailed us; when I had sustained a defeat; when I had lost my best soldiers; when Sophocles was wounded; when the Corfuan was dying; when the little Spiro, upon
whom I relied, was killed; when all my men were weary and discouraged; it was then you had the heart to relieve me of Vasile! Have you, then, no humane sentiments?
Would it not have been a hundred times better to have paid your ransom honestly, as became a good prisoner, than to have it said you sacrificed a life for 15,000
“Eh! Zounds! You have killed people, and for less!”
He replied with dignity: “That is my business; it is not yours. I am a brigand, and you are a doctor. I am Greek, and you are German.”
To that, I had nothing to reply. I felt convinced from the trembling of every fiber of my heart, that I had neither been born nor brought up to the profession of
killing men. The King, angry at my silence, raised his voice, and said:
“Do you know, miserable young man, who was death you are guilty? He was a descendant of those heroic brigands of Souli who fought fierce
battles for their religion, and against Ali de Tebelen, Pasha of Janina. For four generations, all of his ancestors have either been hung or decapitated; not one has
died in his bed. Only six years ago, his own brother perished in Epirus, having been condemned to death; he had killed a Mohammedan. Devotion and courage are
hereditary in that family. Never did Vasile forget his religious duties. He gave to the churches; he gave to the poor. At Easter, he always lighted a larger taper
than any one else. He would have killed himself rather than violate the law of abstinence, or eat meat on a fast-day. He economized in order to retire to a convent
on Mount Athos. Did you know it?”