Three minutes later I slept soundly.
At ten o’clock, about, I awoke with a start. The fire was out and I was alone. Hippopopolis had disappeared and with him had gone my watch, the contents of my pocket-book, my letter of credit, and everything of value I had with me, with the exception of my shirt-studs, which, I presume, would have gone also had they not been fastened to me in such a way that, in getting them, Hippopopolis would have had to wake me up.
To add to my plight, the rain was pouring down in torrents.
I Seek Shelter and Find It
“This is a fine piece of business,” I said to myself, springing to my feet. And then I called as loudly as my lungs would permit for Hippopopolis. It was really exhilarating to do so. The name lends itself so readily to a sonorous effect. The hills fairly echoed and re-echoed with the name, but no answer came, and finally I gave up in disgust, seeking meanwhile the very inadequate shelter of a tree, to keep the rain off. A more woe-begone picture never presented itself, I am convinced. I was chilled through, shivering in the dampness of the night, a steady stream of water pouring upon and drenching my clothing, void of property of an available nature, and lost in a strange land. To make matters worse, I was familiar only with classic Greek, which language is utterly unknown in those parts to-day, being spoken only by the professors of the American school at Athens and the war correspondents of the New York Sunday newspapers—a fact, by the way, which probably accounts for the latter’s unfamiliarity with classic English. It is too much in these times to expect a man to speak or write more than one language at a time. Even if I survived the exposure of the night, a horrid death by starvation stared me in the face, since I had no means of conveying to any one who might appear the idea that I was hungry.
Still, if starvation was to be my lot, I preferred to starve dryly and warmly; so, deserting the tree which was now rather worse as a refuge than no refuge at all, since the limbs began to trickle forth steady streams of water, which, by some accursed miracle of choice, seemed to consider the back of my neck their inevitable destination, I started in to explore as best I could in the uncanny light of the night for some more sheltered nook. Feeling, too, that, having robbed me, Hippopopolis would become an extremely unpleasant person to encounter in my unarmed and exhausted state, I made my way up the mountainside, rather than down into the valley, where my inconsiderate guide was probably even then engaged in squandering my hard-earned wealth, in company with the peasants of that locality, who see real money so seldom that they ask no unpleasant questions as to whence it has come when they do see it.
“Under the circumstances,” thought I, “I sincerely hope that the paths of Hippopopolis and myself may lie as wide as the poles apart. If so be we do again tread the same path, I trust I shall see him in time to be able to ignore his presence.”