The Eye of Zeitoon/Chapter 4
"We are the robbers, effendi!"
THE snow threatened in the mountains had not materialized, and the weather had changed to pure perfection. About an hour after we started the khan emptied itself behind us in a long string, jingling and clanging with horse and camel bells. But they turned northward to pass through the famed Circassian Gates, whereas we followed the plain that paralleled the mountain range—our mules' feet hidden by eight inches of primordial ooze.
"Wish it were only worse!" said Monty. "Snow or rain might postpone massacre. Delay might mean cancellation."
But there was no prospect whatever of rain. The Asia Minor spring, perfumed and amazing sweet, breathed all about us, spattered with little diamond-bursts of tune as the larks skyrocketed to let the wide world know how glad they were. Whatever dark fate might be brooding over a nation, it was humanly impossible for us to feel low-spirited.
Our Zeitoonli Armenians trudged through the mud behind us at a splendid pace—mountain-men with faces toward their hills. The Turks—owners of the animals another man had hired to us—rode perched on top of the loads in stoic silence, changing from mule to mule as the hours passed and watching very carefully that no mule should be overtaxed or chilled. In fact, the first attempt they made to enter into conversation with us was when we dallied to admire a view of Taurus Mountain, and one of them closed up to tell us the mules were catching cold in the wind. (If they had been our animals it might have been another story.)
Their contempt for the Zeitoonli was perfectly illustrated by the difference in situation. They rode; the Armenians walked. Yet the Armenians were less afraid; and when we crossed a swollen ford where a mule caught his forefoot between rocks and was drowning, it was Armenians, not Turks, who plunged into the icy water and worked him free without straining as much as a tendon.
The Turks were obsessed by perpetual fear of robbers. That, and no other motive, made them tolerate the hectoring of Rustum Khan, who had constituted himself officer of transport, and brought up the rear on his superb bay mare. As he had promised us he would, he rode well armed, and the sight of his pistol holsters, the rifle protruding stock-first from a leather case, and his long Rajput saber probably accomplished more than merely keeping Turks in countenance; it prevented them from scattering and bolting home.
His own baggage was packed on two mules in charge of an Armenian boy, who was more afraid of our Turks than they of robbers. Yet, when we demanded of our muleteers what sort of men, and of what nation the dreaded highwaymen might be they pointed at Rustum Khan's lean servant. At the khan the night before one of them had pointed out to Monty two Circassians and a Kurd as reputed to have a monopoly of robbery on all those roads. Nevertheless, they made the new accusation without blinking.
"All robbers are Armenians—all Armenians are robbers!" they assured us gravely.
When we halted for a meal they refused to eat with our Zeitoonli, although they graciously permitted them to gather all the firewood, and accepted pieces of their pasderma (sun-dried meat) as if that were their due. As soon as they had eaten, and before we had finished, Ibrahim, their grizzled senior, came to us with a new demand. On its face it was not outrageous, because we were doing our own cooking, as any man does who has ever peeped into a Turkish servant's behind-the-scene arrangements.
"Send those Armenians away!" he urged. "We Turks are worth twice their number!"
"By the beard of God's prophet!" thundered Rustum Khan, "who gave camp-followers the right to impose advice?"
"They are in league with highwaymen to lead you into a trap!" Ibrahim answered.
Rustum Khan rattled the saber that lay on the rock beside him.
"I am hunting for fear," he said. "All my life I have hunted for fear and never found it !"
"Pekki!" said Ibrahim dryly. The word means "very well." The tone implied that when the emergency should come we should do well not to depend on him, for he had warned us.
We were marching about parallel with the course the completed Baghdad railway was to take, and there were frequent parties of surveyors and engineers in sight. Once we came near enough to talk with the German in charge of a party, encamped very sumptuously near his work. He had a numerous armed guard of Turks.
"A precaution against robbers?" Monty asked, and I did not hear what the German answered.
Rustum Khan laughed and drew me aside.
"Every German in these parts has a guard to protect him from his own men, sahib! For a while on my journey westward I had charge of a camp of recruited laborers. Therefore I know."
The German was immensely anxious to know all about us and our intentions. He told us his name was Hans von Quedlinburg, plainly expecting us to be impressed.
"I can direct you to good quarters, where you can rest comfortably at every stage, if you will tell me your direction," he said.
But we did not tell him. Later, while we ate a meal, he came and questioned our Turks very closely; but since they were in ignorance they did not tell him either.
"Why do you travel with Armenian servants?" he asked us finally before we moved away.
"We like 'em," said Monty.
"They'll only get you in trouble. We've dismissed all Armenian laborers from the railway works. Not trustworthy, you know. Our agents are out recruiting Moslems."
"What's the matter with Armenians?"
"Oh, don't you know?"
The German shrugged his shoulders.
"I'll tell you one thing. This will illustrate. I had an Armenian clerk. He worked all day in my tent. A week ago I found him reading among my private papers. That proves you can't trust an Armenian."
"Ample evidence!" said Monty without a smile, but Fred laughed as we rode away, and the German stared after its with a new set of emotions pictured on his heavy face.
Late in the afternoon we passed through a village in which about two hundred Armenian men and women were holding a gathering in a church large enough to hold three times the number. One of them saw us coming, and they all trooped out to meet us, imagining we were officials of some kind.
"Effendi," said their pastor with a trembling hand on Monty's saddle, "the Turks in this village have been washing their white garments!"
We had heard in Tarsus what that ceremony meant.
"It means, effendi, they believe their purpose holy! What shall we do—what shall we do?"
"Why not go into Tarsus and claim protection at the British consulate?" suggested Fred.
"But our friends of Tarsus warn us the worst fury of all will be in the cities!"
"Take to the hills, then!" Monty advised him.
"But how can we, sir? How can we? We have homes—property—children! We are watched. The first attempt by a number of us to escape to the hills would bring destruction down on all!"
"Then escape to the hills by twos and threes. You ask my advice—I give it."
It looked like very good advice. The slopes of the foot-hills seemed covered by a carpet of myrtle scrub, in which whole armies could have lain in ambush. And above that the cliffs of the Kara Dagh rose rocky and wild, suggesting small comfort but sure hiding-places.
"You'll never make me believe you Armenians haven't hidden supplies," said Monty. "Take to the hills until the fury is over!"
But the old man shook his head, and his people seemed at one with him. These were not like our Zeitoonli, but wore the settled gloom of resignation that is poor half-brother to Moslem fanaticism, caught by subjection and infection from the bullying Turk. There was nothing we could do at that late hour to overcome the inertia produced by centuries, and we rode on, ourselves infected to the verge of misery. Only our Zeitoonli, striding along like men on holiday, retained their good spirits, and they tried to keep up ours by singing their extraordinary songs.
During the day we heard of the chicken, as Will called her, somewhere on ahead, and we spent that night at a kahveh, which is a place with all a khan's inconveniences, but no dignity whatever. There they knew nothing of her at all. The guests, and there were thirty besides ourselves, lay all around the big room on wooden platforms, and talked of nothing but robbers along the road in both directions. Every man in the place questioned each of us individually to find out why we had not been looted on our way of all we owned, and each man ended in a state of hostile incredulity because we vowed we had met no robbers at all. They shrugged their shoulders when we asked for news of Miss Gloria Vanderman.
There was no fear of Ibrahim and his friends decamping in the night, for the Zeitoonli kept too careful watch, waiting on them almost as thoughtfully as they fetched and carried for us, but never forgetting to qualify the service with a smile or a word to the Turks to imply that it was done out of pity for brutish helplessness.
These Zeitoonli of ours were more obviously every hour men of a different disposition to the meek Armenians of the places where the Turkish heel had pressed. But for our armed presence and the respect accorded to the Anglo-Saxon they would have had the whole mixed company down on them a dozen times that night.
"I'm wondering whether the Armenians within reach of the Turks are not going to suffer for the sins of mountaineers!" said Fred, as we warmed ourselves at the great open fire at one end of the room.
"Rot!" Will retorted. "Sooner or later men begin to dare assert their love of freedom, and you can't blame 'em if they show it foolishly. Some folk throw tea into harbors—some stick a king's head on a pole—some take it out for the present in fresh-kid stuff. These Zeitoonli are men of spirit, or I'll eat my hat!"
But if we ourselves had not been men of spirit, obviously capable of strenuous self-defense, our Zeitoonli would have found themselves in an awkward fix that night.
We supped off yoghourt—the Turkish concoction of milk—cow's, goat's, mare's, ewe's or buffalo's (and the buffalo's is best)—that is about the only food of the country on which the Anglo-Saxon thrives. Whatever else is fit to eat the Turks themselves ruin by their way of cooking it. And we left before dawn in the teeth of the owner of the kahveh's warning.
"Dangerous robbers all along the road!" he advised, shaking his head until the fez grew insecure, while Fred counted out the coins to pay our bill. "Armenians are without compunction—bad folk! Ay, you have weapons, but so have they, and they have the advantage of surprise! May Allah the compassionate be witness, I have warned you!"
"There will be more than warnings to be witnessed!" growled Rustum Khan as he rode away. "Those others, who sharpened weapons all night long, and spoke of robbers, have been waiting three days at that kahveh till the murdering begins!"
That morning, on Rustum Khan's advice, we made our Turkish muleteers ride in front of us. The Zeitoon men marched next, swinging along with the hillman stride that eats up distance as the ticked-off seconds eat the day. And we rode last, admiring the mountain range on our left, but watchful of other matters, and in position to cut off retreat.
"The last time a Turk ran away from me he took my Gladstone bag with him!" said Fred. "No, only Armenians are dishonest. It was obedience to his prophet, who bade him take advantage of the giaour—quite a different thing! Ibrahim's sitting on my kit, and I'm watching him. You fellows suit yourselves!"
We passed a number of men on foot that morning all coming our way, but no Armenians among them. However, we exchanged no wayside gossip, because our Zeitoonli in front availed themselves of privilege and shouted to every stranger to pass at a good distance.
That is a perfectly fair precaution in a land where every one goes armed, and any one may be a bandit. But it leads to aloofness. Passers-by made circuits of a half-mile to avoid us, and when we spurred our mules to get word with them they mistook that for proof of our profession and bolted. We chased three men for twenty minutes for the fun of it, only desisting when one of them took cover behind a bush and fired a pistol at us with his eyes shut.
"Think of the lies he'll tell in the kahveh to-night about beating off a dozen robbers single-handed!" Will laughed.
"Let's chase the next batch, too, and give the kahveh gang an ear-full!"
"I rather think not," said Monty. "They'll say we're Armenian criminals. Let's not be the spark."
He was right, so we behaved ourselves, and within an hour we had trouble enough of another sort. We began to meet dogs as big as Newfoundlands, that attacked our unmounted Zeitoonli, refusing to be driven off with sticks and stones, and only retreating a little way when we rode down on them.
"Shoot the brutes!" Will suggested cheerfully, and I made ready to act on it.
"For the lord's sake, don't!" warned Monty, riding at a huge black mongrel that was tearing strips from the smock of one of our men. The owner of the dog, seeing its victim was Armenian, rather encouraged it than otherwise, leaning on a long pole and grinning in an unfenced field near by.
"The consul warned me they think more of a dog's life hereabouts than a man's. In half an hour there'd be a mob on our trail. Take the Zeitoonli up behind us."
Rustum Khan was bitter about what he called our squeamishness. But we each took up a man on his horse's rump, and the dogs decided the fun was no longer worth the effort, especially as we had riding whips. But skirmishing with the dogs and picking up the Armenians took time, so that our muleteers were all alone half a mile ahead of us, and had disappeared where the road dipped between two hillocks, when they met with the scare they looked for.
They came thundering back up the road, flogging and flopping on top of the loads like the wooden monkeys-on-a-stick the fakers used to sell for a penny on the curb in Fleet Street, glancing behind them at every second bound like men who had seen a thousand ghosts.
We brought them to a halt by force, but take them on the whole, now that they were in contact with us, they did not look so much frightened as convinced. They had made up their minds that it was not written that they should go any farther, and that was all about it.
"Ermenie!" said Ibrahim. And when we laughed at that he stroked his beard and vowed there were hundreds of Armenians ambushed by the roadside half a mile ahead. The others corrected him, declaring the enemy were thousands strong.
Finally, Monty rode forward with me to investigate. We passed between the hillocks, and descended for another hundred yards along a gradually sloping track, when our mules became aware of company. We could see nobody, but their long ears twitched, and they began to make preparations preliminary to braying recognition of their kin.
Suddenly Monty detected movement among the myrtle bushes about fifty yards from the road, and my mule confirmed his judgment by braying like Satan at a side-show. The noise was answered instantly by a chorus of neighs and brays from an unseen menagerie, whereat the owners of the animals disclosed themselves—six men, all smiling, and unarmed as far as we could tell—the very same six gipsies who had pitched their tent in the midst of the khan yard at Tarsus.
Then in a clearing at a little distance we saw women taking down a long low black tent, and between us and them a considerable herd of horses, mostly without halters but headed into a bunch by gipsy children. Somebody on a gray stallion came loping down toward us, leaping low bushes, riding erect with pluperfect hands and seat.
"I've seen that stallion before!" said I.
"And the girl on his back is looking for somebody who owns her heart!" smiled Monty. "Hullo! Are you the lucky man?"
She reined the stallion in, and took a good, long look at us, shading her eyes with her hand but showing dazzling white teeth between coral lips. Suddenly the smile departed, and a look of sullen disappointment settled on her face, as she wheeled the stallion with a swing of her lithe body from the hips, and loped away. Never, apparently, did two men make less impression on a maiden's heart. The six gipsies stood staring at us foolishly, until one of them at last held his hand up palm outward. We accepted that as a peace signal.
"Are you waiting here for us?" Monty asked in English, and the oldest of the six—a swarthy little man with rather bow legs—thought he had been asked his name.
"Gregor Jhaere," he answered.
For some vague reason Monty tried him next in Arabic, and then in Hindustanee, but without result. At last he tried halting Turkish, and the gipsy replied at once in German. As Monty used to get two-pence or three-pence a day extra when he was in the British army, for knowing something of that tongue, we stood at once on common ground.
"Kagig told us to wait here and bring you to him," said Gregor Jhaere.
"Where is Kagig?" Monty asked, and the man smiled blankly—much more effectively than if he had shrugged his shoulders.
"We obey Kagig at times," he said, as if that admission settled the matter.
Then there was interruption. Rustum Khan came spurring down the road with his pistol holsters unbuttoned and his saber clattering like a sutler's pots and pans, to see whether we needed help. He had no sooner reined in beside us than I caught sight of Will, drawn between curiosity and fear lest the muleteers might bolt, standing in his stirrups to peer at us from the top of the track between the hillocks. Somebody else caught sight of him too.
There came a shrill shout from over where the women were packing up, and everybody turned to look, Gregor Jhaere included. As hard as the gray stallion could take her in a bee line toward Will the daughter of the dawn with flashing teeth and blazing eyes was riding ventre a terre.
"Maga!" Gregor shouted at her, and then some unintelligible gibberish. But she took no more notice of him than if he had been a crow on a branch. In a minute she was beside Will, talking to him, and from over the top of the rise we could hear Fred shouting sarcastic remonstrance.
"She is bad!" Gregor announced in English. It seemed to be all the English he knew.
"Are you her father?" Monty asked, and Gregor answered in very slipshod German:
Suddenly Fred began to shout for help then, and we rode back, the gipsies following and Rustum Khan remaining on guard between them and their camp with his upbrushed black beard bristling defiance of Asia Minor. Our Turkish muleteers had decided to make a final bolt for it, and were using their whips on the Zeitoonli, who dung gamely to the reins. As soon as we got near enough to lend a hand the Turks resigned themselves with a kind of opportune fatalism. The Zeitoonli promptly turned the tables on them by laying hold of a leg of each and tipping them off into the mud. Ibrahim showed his teeth, and reached for a hidden weapon as he lay, but seemed to think better of it. It looked very much as if those four Zeitoonli knew in advance exactly what the interruption in our journey meant.
Will was out of the running entirely, or else the rest of us were, depending on which way one regarded it. He had eyes for nobody and nothing but the girl, nor she for any one but him, and nobody could rightfully blame either of them. Yankee though he is, Will sat his mule in the western cowboy style, and he was wearing a cowboy hat that set his youth off to perfection. She looked fit to flirt with the lord of the underworld, answering his questions in a way that would have made any fellow eager to ask more. Strangely enough, Gregor Jhaere, presumably father of the girl, appeared to have lost his anger at her doings and turned his back.
Fred, smiling mischief, started toward them to horn in, as Will would have described it, but at that moment about a dozen of the gipsy women came padding up-road, fostered watchfully by Rustum Khan, who seemed convinced that murder was intended somehow, somewhere. They brought along horses with them—very good horses—and Fred prefers a horse trade to triangular flirtation on any day of any week.
The gipsies promptly fell to and off-saddled our loads under Gregor Jhaere's eye, transferring them to the meaner-looking among the beasts the women had brought, taking great care to drop nothing in the mud. And at a word from Gregor two of the oldest hags came to lift us from our saddles one by one, and hold us suspended in mid-air while the saddles were transferred to better mounts. But there is an indignity in being held out of the mud by women that goes fiercely against the white man's grain, and I kicked until they set me back in the saddle.
Monty solved the problem by riding to higher, clean ground near the roadside, where we could stand on firm grass.
Seeing us dismounted, the gipsies underwent a subtle mental change peculiar to all barbarous people. To the gipsy and the cossack, and all people mainly dependent on the horse, to be mounted is to signify participation in affairs. To be dismounted means to stand aside and "let George do it."
Gregor Jhaere became a different man. He grew noisy and in response to his yelped commands they swooped in unprovoked attack on our unhappy muleteers. Before we could interfere they had thrown each Turk face downward, our Zeitoonli helping, and were searching them with swift intruding fingers for knives, pistols, money.
The Turk leaves his money behind when starting on a journey at some other man's expense; but they did draw forth a most astonishing assortment of weapons. They were experts in disarmament. Maga Jhaere lost interest in Will for a moment, and pricked her stallion to a place where she could judge the assortment better. Without any hesitation she ordered one of the old women to pass up to her a mother-o'-pearl ornamented Smith & Wesson, which she promptly hid in her bosom. Judging by the sounds he made, that pistol was the apple of Ibrahim's old eye, but he had seen the last of it. When we interfered, and he could get to her stirrup to demand it back, Maga spat in his face; which was all about it, except that Monty made generous allowance for the thing when paying the reckoning presently. As our servants, those Turks were, of course, entitled to our protection, and besides that weapon we had to pay for five knives that were gone beyond hope of recovery.
Monty paid our Turks off (for it was evident that even had they been willing they would not have been allowed to proceed with us another mile).
Then, as Ibrahim mounted and marshaled his party in front of him, he forgot manners as well as the liberal payment.
"Mashallah!" (God be praised!) he shouted, with the slobber of excitement on his lips and beard. "Now I go to make Armenians pay for this! Let the shapkali, too, avoid me! Ya Ali, ya Mahoma, Alahu!" (Oh, Ali, oh, Mahomet, God is God!)
"Let's hope they haven't a spark of honesty!" said Monty cryptically, watching them canter away.
"Why on earth—?"
"Let's hope they ride back to the consul and swear they haven't received one piaster of their pay. That would let him know we're clear away!"
"Optimist!" jeered Will. "That consul's a Britisher. He'd take their lie literally, and deduce we're no good!"
For the moment the girl on the gray stallion had ridden away from Will and was giving regal orders to the mob of women and shrill children, who obeyed her as if well used to it. Gregor Jhaere and his men stood staring at us, Gregor shaking his head as if our letting the Turks go free had been a bad stroke of policy.
"Aren't you afraid to travel with all that mob of women and cattle?" asked Monty. "We've heard of robbers on the road."
"We are the robbers, effendi!" said Gregor with an air of modesty. The others smirked, but he seemed disinclined to over-insist on the gulf between us.
"Hear him!" growled Rustum Khan. "A thief, who boasts of thieving in the presence of sahibs! So is corruption, stinking in the sun!"
He added something in another language that the gipsies understood, for Gregor started as if stung and swore at him, and Maga Jhaere left her women-folk to ride alongside and glare into his eyes. They were enemies, those two, from that hour forward. He, once Hindu, now Moslem, had no admiration whatever to begin with for unveiled women. And, since the gipsy claims to come from India and may therefore be justly judged by Indian standards, and has no caste, but is beneath the very lees of caste, he loathed all gipsies with the prejudice peculiar to men who have deserted caste in theory and in self-protection claim themselves above it. It was a case of height despising deep in either instance, she as sure of her superiority as he of his.
There might have been immediate trouble if Monty had not taken his new, restless, fresh horse by the mane and swung into the saddle.
"Forward, Rustum Khan!" he ordered. "Ride ahead and let those keen eyes of yours keep us out of traps!"
The Rajput obeyed, but as he passed Will he checked his mare a moment, and waiting until Will's blue eyes met his he raised a warning finger,
Then he rode on, like a man who has done his duty.
"What the devil does he mean?" demanded Will.
"Kubadar means, 'Take care'!" said Monty. "Come on, what are we waiting for?"
That was the beginning, too, of Will's feud with the Rajput, neither so remorseless nor so sudden as the woman's, because he had a different code to guide him and also had to convince himself that a quarrel with a man of color was compatible with Yankee dignity. We could have wished them all three either friends, or else a thousand miles apart two hundred times before the journey ended.
As we rode forward with even our Zeitoonli mounted now on strong mules, Maga Jhaere sat her stallion beside Will with an air of owning him. She was likely a safer friend than enemy, and we did nothing to interfere. Monty pressed forward. Fred and I fell to the rear.
"Haide!" shouted Gregor Jhaere, and all the motley swarm of women and children caught themselves mounts—some already loaded with the gipsy baggage, some with saddles, some without, some with grass halters for bridles. In another minute Fred and I were riding surrounded by a smelly swarm of them, he with his fingers already on the keys of his beloved concertina, but I less enamored than he of the company.
Women and children, loaded, loose and led horses were all mixed together in unsortable confusion, the two oldest hags in the world trusting themselves on sorry, lame nags between Fred and me as if proximity to us would solve the very riddle of the gipsy race. And last of all came a pack of great scrawny dogs that bayed behind us hungrily, following for an hour until hope of plunder vanished.
"That little she-devil who has taken a fancy to Will," said Fred with a grin, "is capable of more atrocities than all the Turks between here and Stamboul! She looks to me like Santanita, Cleopatra, Salome, Cæsar's wife, and all the Borgia ladies rolled in one. There's something added, though, that they lacked."
"Youth," said I. "Beauty. Athletic grace. Sinuous charm."
"No, probably they all had all those."
"Perhaps. Didn't Cleopatra ride?"
"Then what?" said I, puzzled.
"Indiscretion!" he answered, jerking loose the catch of his infernal instrument.
"Don't be afraid, old ladies," he said, glancing at the harridans between us. "I'm only going to sing!"
He makes up nearly all of his songs, and some of them, although irreverent, are not without peculiar merit; but that was one of his worst ones.
The preachers prate of fallen man
And choirs repeat the chant.
While unco' guid with unction urge
Repression of the joys that surge.
And jail for those who can't.
The poor deluded duds forget
That something drew the sting
When Adam tiptoed to his fall,
And made it hardly hurt at all.
Of Mother Eve I sing!
Oh, Mother Eve, dear Mother Eve,
The generations come and go,
But daughter Eve's as live as you
Were back in Eden years ago!
Oh, hell's not hell with Eve to tell
Again the ancient tale,
But Eden's grassy ways and bowers
Deprived of Eve to ease the hours
Would very soon grow stale!
Red cherry lips that leap to laugh,
And chic and flick and flair
Can make black white for any one—
The task of Sisyphus good fun!
So what should Adam care!
Oh, daughter Eve, dear daughter Eve,
The tribulations go and come,
But no adventure's ever tame
With you to make surprises hum!
Aye-yee—I see—a cloud afloat in air of amethyst
I know its racing shadow falls on banks of gold
Where rain-rejoicing gravel warms the feeding roots
And smells more wonderful than wine. I know the shoots
Of myrtle and of asphodel now stir the mould
Where wee cool noses sniff the early mist.
Aye-yee—the sparkle of the little springs I see
That tinkle as they hunt the thirsty rill.
I know the cobwebs glitter with the jeweled dew.
I see a fleck of brown—it was a skylark flew
To scatter bursting music, and the world is still
To listen. Ah, my heart is bursting too—Aye-yee!
(It begins with a swinging crash, and fades away.)
Aye-yee, aye-yah—the kites see far
(But also to the foxes views unfold)—
No hour alike, no places twice the same.
Nor any track to show where morning came,
Nor any footprint in the moistened mould
To tell who covered up the morning star.
Aye-yee—I see—new rushes crowding upwards in the mere
Where, gold and white, the wild duck preens himself
Safe hidden till the sun-drawn, lingering mists melt.
I know the secret den where bruin dwelt.
I see him now sun-basking on a shelf
Of windy rock. He looks down on the deer.
Who flit like flowing light from rock to tree
And stand with ears alert before they drink.
I know a pool of purple rimmed with white
Where wild-fowl, warming for the morning flight.
Wait clustering and crying on the brink.
And I know hillsides where the partridge breeds. Aye-yee!
Aye-yee, aye-yah—the kites see far
(But also to the owls the visions change)—
No dawn is like the next, and nothing sings
Of sameness—very hours have wings
And leave no word of whose hand touched the range
Of Kara Dagh with opal and with cinnabar.
Aye-yee—I see—new distances beyond a blue horizon flung.
I laugh, because the people under roofs believe
That last year's ways are this! No roads are old!
New grass has grown! All pools and rivers hold
New water! And the feathered singers weave
New nests, forgetting where the old ones hung!
Aye-yah—the muddy highway sticks and clings.
But I see in the open pastures new
Unknown to busné in the houses pent!
I hear the new, warm raindrops drumming on the tent,
I feel already on my feet delicious dew,
I see the trail outflung! And oh, my heart has wings!
Aye-yee, aye-yah—the kites see far
(But also on the road the visions pass)—
The universe reflected in a wayside pool,
A tinkling symphony-where seeping waters drool.
The dance, more gay than laughter, of the wind-swept grass—
Oh onward! On to where the visions are!
- Chalana—She jockey (a compliment).
- Gorgio—Gentile (an insult).
- Shapkali—hatted man—foreigner.
- Haide!—Turkish, "Come on!"
- Busné—Gipsy word—Gentile, or non-gipsy.