Translation:The High Mountains/3

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The Departure

They owed their departure to Mr Stephan. On his return from the forest, this good man gave his word to their parents that he would accompany them. He said that he would look after them wherever they were, that he would help them in every possible way and that he would often bring back their news when he came down to the town.


This was the only way they managed to get permission. They needed two or three days to get ready and in the end, one morning, the great lively caravan set off.

They are leaving for the high mountains. They are twenty-five children. Fifteen are going on foot, the other ten astride their laden mules, led by three mule-drivers. Mr Stephan follows them on his red mare.

And the twenty-five children become unrecognisable. They carry sticks. Bags and gourds hang at their backs. They carry their straw hats and big shoes.

They are dressed for mountain life. The same clothes they will wear from morning to night, that must be resistant to thorns and stones; they will be torn and repaired. They haven't taken any new clothes with them.

What simple children they have become!

With their big bags, they resemble masons and peddlers who come down to the town.

The cobbler

They remember them at this moment. And they imitate them, one after the other, as they really are, with their actions, with their cries. Dimitrakis plays the tinsmith and shouts “Copper pots to cover.....”

Costakis is the cobbler: “Shoes to mend.......” Georges in his turn is the knife-sharpener: “Knives, scissors, penknives to shaaarpen”.

Phanis remembers a merchant they have forgotten. He sells aromatic herbs, origan and plants; he is called the mountain picker: “Capers, lovely cap.......!”

A tinsmith

Amid the bursts of laughter, Kaloyannis recalls the song “Tsiritro” and begins to sing. All the group launches into the funny chorus and they sing, beating the ground with their sticks:

Upon a bunch of grapes
eight sparrows have fallen
and these friends ate and drank.

Tsiri-tiri tsiritro

They tapped their beaks
and flicked their tails
and laughed most joyfully

Tsiri-tiri tsiritro

Oh oh oh upon a bunch
feasting and singing
they left it stripped quite bare

Tsiri-tiri tsiritro

They got drunk, and all day long
They go here and there
Singing in the wind

Tsiri-tiri, tsiritro

Only Foudoulis doesn't sing; he's the last. Poor fat, round little Foudoulis! His mule is very lazy, it obeys neither voice nor lashes of the whip. Why did they put him on this animal? So that he'd be lagging behind?

Foudoulis urges the animal forward, but he always stays at the back. Finally Foudoulis starts to worry that his animal isn't a mule. He looks carefully at its ears. “ Maybe by mistake”, he says to himself, “ they've given me an ass?”

And the others don't leave him alone and end up getting him to believe it.

“Foudoulis, your thoroughbred's ears are far too big!”

“Wait, Foudoulis, he's going to end up bawling!”

But Foudoulis, who never gets cross, laughs along with the others.

The caravan climbs up to the Three Peaks waking up the valleys with its laughter, its chatter, and its tramping over the stony paths.