Barbati

" ... I left them and made my way up into the bows of the benzina where I lay, staring down over the prow as it sheared its way through the glassy, blue sea. Occasionally little flocks of flying fish would break the surface ahead of us, glittering blue and moon-silver in the sun, as they burst from the water and skimmed along the surface, like insect-gleaning summer swallows across a blue meadow.

We reached our destination at eight o’clock: a half-mile-long beach that lay under the flanks of Pandokrator. Here the olive grove came almost to the sea, only separated from it by a wide strip of shingle. As we approached the shore, the engine was switched off and we drifted in gently under our own momentum. Now there was no engine noise we could hear the cries of the cicadas welcoming us to land. The benzina, with an enormous sigh, pressed its bow into the pebbles of the shallows. The lithe, brown boy, whose boat it was, came forward from the engine and leapt from the bows with the anchor, which he lodged firmly in the shingle. Then he piled a collection of boxes alongside the bows of the benzina in a sort of tottering staircase down which Mother and Margo were escorted by Kralefsky. He bowed elegantly as each one reached the shingle, and somewhat marred the effect by inadvertently stepping backwards into six inchcs of sea water and irretrievably ruining the crease of his elegant trousering. Eventually, we and all of our goods and chattels were ashore and, leaving our possessions under the olive trees, strewn haphazardly like something from a wrecked ship that had been disgorged by the sea, we made our way up the hill to Stavrodakis’ villa.

The villa was large and square, faded red with green shutters and built up high so that the lower floor formed a spacious cellar... ."

BIRDS BEASTS & RELATIVES © Gerald Durrell 1969

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