Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago - Julia D. Cowles

Duris Leaves Athens

The great music hall which Phorion had built was finished. It was a beautiful building, and Phorion was honored and praised and feasted.

Pericles, the ruler, wished him to make his home in Athens. But there was work in the Island which Phorion had promised to do upon his return there.

"I should be glad to make Athens my home," he said, in talking with Hermippos, "for it is a beautiful city in which to live. But I must fulfill my promise first. Perhaps after that I may return with my family."

"I sincerely hope so," replied Hermippos. "Athens needs men like you. It will be hard for the boys to part." he added.

"I am sure of that," replied Phorion. "I should be glad to take Hiero with me, if I were sure that we could return soon. The boys would enjoy the trip together. But I shall have to stay for some time in the Island, and, besides, I have recently heard rumors of trouble which I like not."

"Ah," said Hermippos, "so you have heard the rumors, too! I fear that the thirty-year treaty of peace is likely to be broken."

"I am sorry if it is so," replied Phorion. "Pericles is a wise and just ruler. He has made Athens a wonderful city. We must beseech the gods to avert the threatened war."

"It would put an end to the building of temples and the carving of statues," said Hermippos. "But the walls of Athens are too high and too strong for her citizens to feel much fear."

"Here are the boys," he added, as Hiero and Duris came into the room, each with a honey cake in his hand.

"Where did you get the cakes?" asked Phorion.

"Oh, we bought them of a street vender, on our way from school," answered Duris. "We first watched them baked, and they were hot when we bought them."

"Eat your cakes together then," said Phorion with a smile; and then he added, "You boys know, of course, that the music hall is finished, and that we shall soon leave Athens."

The boys exchanged a troubled look.

"Will you be sorry to go?" asked Phorion.

"I shall be very sorry to leave Hiero," Duris replied quickly. "But, of course, our home is in the Island."

"Will we ever see each other again?" asked Hiero soberly.

"No one can answer that question," replied Hermippos. "But we hope it will not be long before Phorion will return with his family, and make his home in Athens."

"Oh!" exclaimed the boys together. "That will be fine."

"When do we leave, Father?" inquired Duris.

"In three days," replied Phorion, "so make the most of your time together."

The next two days were crowded as full as possible with fun and frolic and sightseeing. Toward night of the second day the boys paid a last visit to the Acropolis.

They wandered about the temples, looked at the carvings and statues, and then, standing together by the wall, they looked off to the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

"To-morrow," said Hiero very soberly, "you will be sailing on the water. Athens will seem lonely to me without you."

"I shall miss you, too," said Duris, "but—well, we'll remember the story your father told us about Damon and Pythias—and I hope I can come back to Athens sometime."

"Oh, Duris!" shouted Hiero the next morning, running into the court, where Duris was playing with the pet hare, "Father says that we are going as far as the Piraeus with you."

"Good! Good!" exclaimed Duris. "Then you will see us sail!"

A little later quite a company of people set out from the home of Hermippos on their way to the Piraeus.

Hermippos and Phorion, Hiero and Duris, were each mounted upon a donkey. With them was a large group of slaves. Those belonging to Phorion carried bundles of clothing, blankets and cooking utensils, as they had when they came to Athens. Besides these, they carried bundles in which were many beautiful and costly gifts which Phorion had received while in Athens. Some of these were gifts from Pericles.

"It is nearly two years since you came to Athens," said Hiero as he rode beside Duris.

"Yes," said Duris. "What a lot of things I shall have to tell the boys in the Island. It will be great fun; but I wish you could be with me."

It was not long before they came in sight of the seas, lying blue and sparkling in the morning sun; and soon they had reached the Piraeus.

They rode through the streets of the town, and Hiero noticed how broad and smooth and regular they were compared with the streets of Athens.

"I don't care for such streets at all," he declared loyally. "They are like a sum in arithmetic. The streets of Athens are like a poem."

Phorion and Hermippos laughed, but Phorion added: "There is some truth in what he says. 'Tis plain to be seen that he loves Athens."

When the party reached the dock they dismounted and left the donkeys in care of the slaves.

"We will go on board the triremes," Hermippos said to Hiero. "I think you will enjoy that."

"Oh, yes, indeed!" exclaimed Hiero. "I have always wanted to see what the inside of a ship was like."

All along the docks were boat-houses in which were kept the triremes belonging to the navy of Athens.

"It must be a fine sight when a whole fleet of vessels are on the water!" exclaimed Hiero.

"Yes," replied his father, "it is; but we will hope that it may be many years before Athens finds it necessary to unlock her boat-houses."

The trireme upon which Phorion and Duris were to sail was fastened to one of the docks and they went on board. The boys were soon exploring every part of the ship. But that which interested them most was the place occupied by the men who used the oars. Three rows of seats extended the length of the ship on each side. Beside each seat was an opening through which the oar extended into the water.

"Now we must leave the ship," said Hermippos, "for the captain is ready to sail."

There were a few hurried words of farewell, Hermippos and Hiero sprang to the dock, the long oars touched the water together, and Phorion and Duris had started upon their homeward journey.

At just about the time that Hermippos and Hiero, with their attendant company of slaves, again entered the gates of Athens, Duris, on board the ship, pointed back to the land and, turning to his father, exclaimed, "See the gleam, Father. The sun is shining upon the Acropolis and touching the tip of Athene's spear."