Like Another Helen
C. M. RELYEA
"And, like another Helen, fired another Troy"
The BOWEN-MERRILL COMPANY
BY GEORGE HORTON
BY THE BOWEN-MERRILL COMPANY
Braunworth, Munn & Barber
Printers and Binders
Brooklyn, N. Y.
DEDICATED BY KIND PERMISSION TO
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
GEORGE OF GREECE
HIGH COMMISSIONER IN CRETE
To No Avail
In the Track of War
A Deserted Town
A Friend Worth Having
A Hopeless Prisoner
A Promise of Help
Pride and its Fall
A Grateful Major
A Violent Wooer
The Innocent Onlooker
Still with the Army
An Interrupted Rescue
Ye Who Enter Here
The Better Part of Valor
To a Place of Safety
LIKE ANOTHER HELEN
Just at sunset one day in the last week ofMarch, 1897, a caique set sail from theharbor of Pirśus, ostensibly laden withcognac for Cairo, but in reality carrying asmall revolving cannon and a large numberof Gras rifles to the insurgents in Crete, whohad risen for the hundredth time and werefighting desperately for liberty and theChristian faith. There were several large barrels,conspicuously marked "Koniak" in Greekcharacters, on the deck, and a number ofboxes that bore the legend, "Two dozenbottles from Kambas, Athens." The legend wasnot untruthful, for one of the huge casks, atleast, contained the fiery liquid attributed toit; numberless others, in the hold, were filledwith guns, and the boxes below deck werepacked with ammunition.
There were other things, too, in thecaique's cargo intended for the Cretanheroes—articles of a seemingly pacific nature, suchas hams, hardtack, flour, sausages, olives andbeans. These had been declared contrabandby the admirals of the great powers, and thewhole cargo, should it be seized by any of thewarships prowling about the ancient island,was doomed to confiscation. The captain, athick-set, square-shouldered Greek, in greasyblue suit, soft woolen shirt and felt hat, heldthe long tiller in his left hand and made thesign of the cross repeatedly with his right.
"Holy Virgin be our helper," he muttered."St. Nicholas protect and help us!"
A stiff breeze was blowing and the vesselleaned over, like a tall man shouldering hisway through a storm. The three young menstanding upon her deck maintained theirequilibrium by shooting one leg out straight,as though it were the prop of a cabin builton the side of a hill; the other being shortenedto half its length by bending at the hipand knee.
A strip of canvas stretched on ropes, to keepthe waves from rushing over, ran the wholelength of either side. Stern and prow wereequally pointed, and the iron rings of theboom, that clutched the main masts like thefingers of a closed hand, creaked monotonously.Two jibs, fluttering full-breasted before,seemed to pull out for the open sea, asa pair of white doves might in old time havedrawn the bark of Aphrodite. The waters ofthe bay, that lay like a rolling plain of greenmeadow grass and blood-red anemones inthe dying sun, was shredded into lily-whitefoam by the ship's iron plowshare and hurledcarelessly into the broad road that streamedout behind.
At their right a great fleet of old-timesailing ships, many of them painted green, layrotting at their anchors. These had beengallant craft in the Viking days of Greece,faring to the coast of Russia, to England andSpain and convertible in a week's notice frompeaceful merchants into blockade runnersand ships of the line.
Two natty officers stepped to the prow ofa Russian gunboat, that was white and trimas a bride, and fixed their glasses keenly onthe caique.
"Curse you!" growled the captain,involuntarily opening his hand, the Greek sign ofan imprecation.
"St. Nicholas strike you blind! Look allyou will, and again I'll cheat you."
But the time had come to tack, and heshouted the order to the sailors. The convenientcanvas was shifted, the helm was put over,and the caique bore straight for the narrowmouth of the harbor.
A great sail was thrown out on either sidelike a pair of wings. The vessel turned itsbeak to the south and swooped down the windlike a hawk. The three young men stood withtheir feet apart now, their legs of equal length.
"By Jove, that's glorious!" shouted one ofthem, his accent betraying the American—probablythe Bostonian.
The sun stood on the tiptop of Salamis,saying good-night to the world. Athens was apillar of purple dust, shot through andthrough with lances of flame. The statelycolumns of the Parthenon were of liquidamber. The church on the summit of MountLycabettus caught fire and blazed. Themountain itself was hidden in a column ofdust and the church floated in mid-air. Thensuddenly, as if by a stroke of some grand,celestial magic, the glow died from everythingas the blood fades from a frightened face. TheParthenon was a pale, stately white, the ghostof the temple of a moment ago; the churchon the hill had turned gray—ashes in place offire. The sun had dropped behind Salamis.But now came a greater wonder: Hymettusand all the hills that surround the lovely plainof Attica took on a deep, quivering, unearthlytint of violet. This light was delicate, fluffy,spiritual. You fancied it was fragrant; youimagined that all the fresh spring violets of ahundred worlds had been plucked and pouredsea deep over the hills.
A sudden lurch of the ship threw the Americanagainst the man at his side.
"I beg your pardon," he said, "or perhapsyou do not speak English?"
"O, yes," replied the person addressed;"not perfectly, but sufficiently to makemyself understood. Permit me to introduce myself."
Producing a large leathern pocketbook, heextracted from its recesses a card. The handthat presented the bit of pasteboard waslarge, pink and well groomed. The American read:
Lieutenant de Cavalerie.
Lieutenant Lindbohm read on the cardwhich he received in return,
Mr. John Curtis.
"I am happy to meet you, Mr. Curtis," saidthe Lieutenant, politely lifting his straw hatand then drawing it down over his ears withboth hands. The hat was secured to thebutton-hole by means of a shoe string, and had astartling habit of leaping to the end of itstether every few moments.
"And I you, Lieutenant," replied Curtisheartily, extending his hand.
"You are going to Crete?"
"No, to Cairo," laughed the Lieutenant.
"O, we're all onto the secret, or we wouldn'tbe here. And I'm mighty glad there'ssomebody going along who can speakEnglish. I hope we'll be good friends, and Idon't see why we shouldn't be, I'm sure. I'mjust out of college—Harvard, you know—andthe governor told me to take a triparound the world. He believes in a year oftravel to kind of complete and round out aman's education."
"I find it an excellent idea," said theLieutenant, grabbing for his hat, that a suddenpuff of wind had swept from his head.
"Isn't it? It's jolly. Well, I'm going tosurprise the governor. I'm going to writea book—sort of prose 'Childe Harold.' Iwish I had the knack to do it in verse. Ithought this Cretan business would make agreat chapter, so I went straight to thepresident of the committee and told him I wouldwrite the struggle up from a Christianstandpoint. Nice old fellow. Said he would doanything for an American, and put me ontothis snap. I ought to find some goodmaterial down there. I'm glad the governor can'thear of this thing till I get ready to tell him."
"That is, the governor of New York?"asked the Lieutenant.
"No. Ha, ha, ha! My governor—my oldman—my father, you know."
"Ah, I beg pardon. You will see that I donot know the English so well."
The Lieutenant was forty years of age orthereabouts. His straw hat, extremely longgray Prince Albert coat and russet shoescombined to give a somewhat incongruous effectto his attire. He carried a slender rattan cane,that was faintly suggestive of a rapier, andwhich he had a habit of twirling. This was nottheatrical. It was rather a betrayal than anexhibition. Blue, very light blue eyes,straw-colored hair, a horse-shoe mustache, six feetthree of stature and a slight stoop in theshoulders—such was Lieutenant Peter Lindbohmof the Swedish or any other army, bravefighter in the Argentine, in China, in SouthAfrica. He could smell burning powder halfway around the globe, and was off at the firsttelegram announcing the declaration of a newwar. He was brave as a lion, and seeminglyimmune from danger. He always offeredhis sword to the under dog first, and if it wererefused, gave the other side second choice.He preferred to fight for liberty and right,but felt it a necessity to fight somehow. Helooked at you with innocent, inquiring eyes;his manner was gentle as a woman's and hissmile as sweet as a babe's.
"You have given me your confidence," hesaid. "I will give you mine, though there isnot much to tell. I am a soldier byprofession. I was down among the Boers when Iheard of this trouble in Crete. I had hopedfor war there. I was also at Majuba Hill, yousee, and President Kruger knows me. Butthe English will not attack now,