Would you believe that in all the villages of this district there is not a single doctor, or even a pharmacy! I do not know if anything of the kind has been printed at Athens, but certainly we have never had here any book or pamphlet giving directions how to avoid or cure the commonest diseases—I do not mean hydrophobia, but the simple ailments of which our little children die. But never mind that now; those things will come in time.
“When Christos came home leaning on the old man’s shoulder, wounded and bloody, with his clothes torn, the whole village was in commotion. I was told at once of what had happened, and went to see him. He lived with his father in that little house in the street by the church. On the ground-floor there is a storeroom and an oil-press, while above there are two small chambers, which are reached by a stairway built on the outside facing the road.”
“Where the schoolmaster lives now?” asked Andrew.
“Yes, that’s the place. When I arrived I found the greatest difficulty in getting near Christos. The neighbors’ wives had filled the two rooms and were pressing round the young man, with the best intentions, no doubt, but only making confusion, and hindering instead of helping.
Hospital in Athens
“The first thing to do was not to wash away the blood or mend the torn clothes, but to cauterize the poor boy’s wounds. Nobody had thought of that, or of anything else but to get some of the herb that is supposed to cure madness. I did my best to persuade them to send Christos at once to the hospital in Athens; but they would not hear of it. They kept talking of the ‘mad plant,’ and nothing but the ‘mad plant’! This was the only remedy; but unfortunately no one in the village had any of it!”
“What herb is it?” I asked the priest, interrupting him.
Everybody at the table turned to me, and I couldn’t help blushing under all those eyes. I saw that my interruption did not find favor, and repented my untimely question; too late I perceived that it was not an opportune moment for botanical inquiries.
“I cannot describe it to you, because I have never seen it,” replied Father Seraphim. “I think it grows at Salamis; it is the secret of the monks of Phaneromeni, and is quite a source of revenue to them.”
I was satisfied with this explanation, and bent my head in silence, while the priest covered my embarrassment by turning to the other guests, and continued: