Translation:The High Mountains/1

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The High Mountains  (1918)  by Zacharias Papantoniou, translated from Greek by Wikisource
The Three Fires
The Three Fires

Night is falling. What is this bright flame that has just appeared on the mountain!

Phanis saw it first. He's the first to have seen the splendours of the earth and sky, he's showing them to the other children: the setting sun, the clouds racing across the sky, the star reflected in the little stream.

—Look, he says, there's a fire up there! And he shows the fire to the two children with him, Matthias and Costakis.

At that moment the three of them were seated at the entrance to the church. They were tired from having played a lot. They're on holiday.

—Yes, it's true, there is a fire! said the other two.

—Look how it's shining! said Phanis. Like gold.


The children look at it and ask each other: so who's lit it? Maybe the shepherds who are grazing their herds? Maybe the woodcutters who chop down trees with an axe? Or perhaps someone who has gone up there to pray to Saint Elie? The monastery is somewhere near there.

Maybe it wasn't lit by people, said Costakis.

—Then who?

—Maybe the Moor lit it.

—And what's this Moor then? the others wanted to know.

—It's a big Moor who's got his cave up there in the rock. In the mountains, they say that's the rock.

—Be quiet, silly Costakis, said Matthias. D'you believe that? I certainly don't. Who's seen him?

—My granny told me.

—And how does she know?

—She's very old, my granny.

The more night fell, the more brilliant the flame became; and the more it shone, the more Costakis believed his granny.

Matthias didn't believe any of this. It was obvious that the fire had been lit by a shepherd.

Phanis said nothing.


—Phanis! Phanis! Three fires, three fires!

This was how the children were heard to shout as they ran over towards Phanis.

At that very same moment Phanis had seen the fires too. Near that flame, two others had been lit. Three golden fires in a line shone out from the mountain, which was no longer just an immense blue shadow in the sky.

Phanis' sensitive soul was enraptured by the vivid display.

—Who's lit them? Matthias asked once again. What do you think, Phanis?

Phanis replied:

—If only we were up there!