Translation:The High Mountains/44

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Bathing

Of all the children the one who loves water the most is Panos. He sits under the fountain naked and bathes. If he finds a tank on the road, he's capable of undressing and diving into it.

Mr Stephan called him Dipper-Panos.

The Dipper, isn't that a bird that goes mad for water? If he hears water flowing, he whistles in his cage. And if Panos hears water, he jumps for joy.

As soon as he heard we would go to the mill for flour, how excited he was!

“I'm in favour of going to the miller!” he said.

From then on he thinks only of sitting naked under the rain of the mill, there where the drops spray down. He's already done it once, and he hasn't forgotten this freshness.


The woodcutters' wives prepared the children's bread for a fee. On the other hand for the wheat, they have to bring it themselves to the mill to be ground.

The went to get a mule from the woodcutters. In the morning Panos, Kaloyannis, Matthias, Costakis and Phanis started out. Five millers.

They learnt the route to take the evening before and they know where to go; they noted well the directions. After they cannot make a mistake because they've got with them a precious guide, the mule.

He goes to the mill by himself. He understands just like a person. He now knows where the children want to go. He's an animal that walks self-confidently on the edge of precipices. He sees in the dark, and remembers all the paths he's taken in the night.

And how his copper bell echoes in the ravines!


They had been walking for about an hour.

“Can you hear, boys?” said Costakis stopping. The others too stopped to listen. A noise reached their ears.

“Water!” said the children.

Costakis, still, cocked his ear, and as he heard so much water, he cried thrilled: “The Roumelle!”

Just as when we hear the name of a good friend who has arrived, they hurtled down the slope to see it as quickly as possible.

It was the Roumelle. It flowed down proudly and the water rumbled.

On the banks on both sides plane trees profited from the water. Beside them other trees bent down to drink.

The river widened here to form a pool, on whose bed they could see even the smallest pebble. Elsewhere there were terraces of glistening stones. The water came down the steps making white waterfalls.


Hardly had they had time to look, when the children saw Panis get undressed and go into the water.

“No, no! They shouted to him; you'll get cold. Get out of there!”

Panos went in even further. He hit the water with his hands, splashed his body, stuck his head in the water. He laughed and threw drops of water into the air.

“You're scared! Oo ooo, you're scared!” he cried, and splashed them.


Costakis started to take his clothes off. He stood up on the bank, with nothing on.

“ Are you going to dive in, Costakis? Jump! Go on, be brave! What, you're not going to jump in?” they cried.

Costakis dipped his foot in the water, but he stopped terrified; he found it cold. He wanted to leave but Panos, catching him by the arm, pulled him down and made him plunge in.

At the first dive Costakis gasped. He thought he'd catch pneumonia and pass away! However he realised at the same time that it was fear that made him cold, not the water. At the time he felt cold, now he felt the coolness and well-being. He started to spray water onto the others.


“Well see that, even Costakis is splashing us now!” the three others thought.

They got undressed too and jumped into the water.

The ravine sent out their laughing and shouting in echoes. Two dippers who were frightened at the beginning came back ready to take a risk. The plane trees interwove their branches above to make a green arch. The water was as clear as a diamond; it came from the very heart of the mountain.

Roumelle, fresh Roumelle!


“And now how are we going to get dry?” asked Costakis, when he got out of the water.

Of course they had no towels with them. So they went near to that which dries and warms the poor and destitute, the sun.

But while they were resting in the sun, they rubbed their skin vigorously with leaves from the plane, oak and mastic trees. In this way they dried themselves and then got dressed.

Their thoughts hadn't left the bathing; they couldn't forget it. They had become light; they felt like leaves, water, air.

How good it had been to be bold! But all that thanks to who? To Dipper-Panos.

“Come on, come and lift him up” they said.

The raised him high and cried “Hurray!”

The mule's bell which they heard further away reminded them that it was time to go to the mill.