Translation:The High Mountains/2

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The High Mountains  (1918)  by Zacharias Papantoniou, translated from Greek by Wikisource
Andreas's Letter
Andreas's Letter

And why couldn't they be up there?

Their teacher had often told them in class that the children in the last class of college could go up into the mountains by themselves. On the condition that they were courageous and disciplined, they could live up there alone for a month or two. They just needed their parents' permission, a roof over the heads and some food.

“You'll learn so many things while you're up there! he told them. All that isn't in books and that I can't explain myself.” It was clear that they could go if they really wanted to.

The children asked their parents to let them go. Their parents were against it at first.

“Who knows what you're going to get up to so far away? they said. Will you look after each other? Will you stay together?”

They promised that the twenty-five children would be as one. But then their parents asked: “Where will you find huts to live in?”

This was the first difficulty. Then they asked them: “How will you find enough food to survive so far away?”

Faced with these difficulties, the children gave in; they left the trip for another time.

And we rarely do what we leave for another time.

However, one pupil, Andreas, tried to do, by himself, what the others couldn't manage. This was a child who dared. Andreas was more attracted to difficulty than the easy way out. They can't remember ever having seen him hesitate. And he was even more courageous if it was going to help others.

His father, Mr Stephan, was a forester at the Green Wood, the forest where the teacher had told them to go. He had a lot of woodcutters up there.

So Andreas asked him to give them some wood for the cabins the children needed. And to be sure that it would turn out well, Andreas followed his father one day into the forest while he had gone to check on the work.

In two days the woodcutters had built eight cabins: eight delightful, solid cabins; a small village. The accommodation was ready.

The woodcutters told Andreas that the Vlachs ° were going to come to the Three Peaks – as this mountain is called – to find pasture for their herds: because this year the grass was growing well in these parts.

So the most important thing had been found: food. The herds would provide meat and dairy produce.

Andreas stayed in the forest and waited until the Vlachs arrived. And when they did, he sent this message to two children in the town:

My friends,

In the early evening of the 29th, both of you look up from the church of Saints Apostles towards the mountain in our direction, The Green Wood side. If you see three fires in a row, you will know that this is my message to you; to say that everything is ready, food and cabins and all we need. Tell Phanis and the others. Do everything you can to come. Don't waste any time. It's so beautiful up here!


On the 29th...from the Saints-Apostles church...this evening... There they are, the fires!

The two children went to take the message to Phanis, Matthias and Costakis.

How unexpected and wonderful! Never had they agreed to anything from so far away. Were they going to go? And when? How?

They ran home looking at the three fires all the way.

“They're signalling to us!” cries Costakis.

Indeed it was as if the three fires were inviting them.