“Very few. You know our Syrans; they’re content to saunter up and down their crowded square; it is only people of taste who enjoy themselves—
[Greek Text] ... on the shore of the resounding sea.”
“And who were these men of taste to-day?” asked the judge, with a smile.
“If I had spoken of men of taste, I should have had to confine myself to the dual number!” Mr. Plateas began to laugh at his own joke. His friend smiled too, but wishing a more exact answer, continued:
“At least we two have imitators; how many did you meet and who were they?”
“Always the same; Mr. A., Mr. B.—” And the professor began to count off on his fingers the peripatetic philosophers, as he used to call the frequenters of this promenade, that he had met,—all of them old, or at least of ripe age, except one romantic youth who thought himself a poet.
“And no ladies?” asked the judge.
“Oh, yes, Mrs. X. with her flock of children, and the merchant,—what is his name,—Mr. Mitrophanis, with his two daughters.”
The judge had learned all he wanted to know without letting his friend perceive the drift of his questions. This was not very difficult, for the professor was by no means a modern Lynceus, and did not see any great distance beyond his nose. No doubt this resulted from the innate simplicity and integrity of his character; having never been able to conceal or feign anything himself, he was easily led to believe whatever he was told. The readiness with which he became the victim of his friends each first of April was notorious. He was always on the watch from the night before; but his precautions were in vain. He was a man of first impressions. Sometimes, but not often, he fathomed the questions afterward, and discovered that he had not acted or spoken as he would have liked. As a rule, however, these after-thoughts came too late to be of any use, and he had to console himself with the reflection that what’s done is done.
“What do you say, will you stroll on with me?” asked the judge.
“What, at this hour, my dear friend!”
“Only to the turn of the road.”
“You had better come home with me, and I’ll treat you to some perfumed wine that I received yesterday from Siphnos. I can recommend it.”
“Well, since you are so kind, I shall be very glad to taste your native wine; but first let us sit here awhile and breathe the fresh sea-air.” And he pointed to a modest cafe, “On the Sands,” which a bold speculator had improvized only a few weeks before, by making a small inclosure of planks and setting up a few tables.
The professor turned toward the cafe, then looked at the setting sun, took out his watch, glanced at the hour, and heaved a gentle sigh.
“You do whatever you please with me,” he said, as he followed Mr. Liakos.