Mr. X or Captain Pogossian

When, as the sailors would have said, the storm abated, Pogossian and I, finding that we had had enough for one evening and had been sufficiently diverted by these good people—and not even by request—dragged ourselves home to sleep.

It cannot be said that we were very talkative on the way home; my eye kept shutting involuntarily and Pogossian was groaning and cursing himself for not minding his own business.

The next morning at breakfast, reviewing our physical condition and our rather idiotic behaviour of the previous evening, we decided not to postpone the trip to Egypt we had planned, as we calculated that the long voyage on the boat and the pure sea air would cure our wounds of battle completely by the time we arrived there. So we went at once to the port to find out if there were a ship to suit our pockets which would soon be going to Alexandria.

We discovered that there was a Greek sailing-­vessel in the harbour about to leave for Alexandria, and we hurried off to the office of the steamship company to which this ship belonged to get the necessary information. Just at the door of this office a sailor ran up to us and, jabbering something or other in broken Turkish, began warmly and excitedly shaking hands with both of us.

At first we did not understand anything, but it soon became clear that he was an English sailor, one of the group in whose defence we had fought the previous evening. Gesturing to us to wait, he hurried off and a few minutes later returned accompanied by three comrades, one of whom, as we afterwards learned, was an officer. All of them thanked us warmly for what we had done the day before and insisted that we go to a Greek restaurant near by to have a glass of douziko with them.

After three rounds of the miraculous douziko—that worthy offspring of the beneficent mastikhe of the ancient Greeks—we began to talk more and more noisily and freely, of course thanks to the ability we had all inherited of making ourselves understood by ‘ancient Greek mimicry’ and ‘ancient Roman gesticulation’, as well as with the help of words taken from all the seaport languages on earth. When they learned that we wished to get somehow or other to Alexandria, then the beneficent effect of that worthy offspring of the invention of the ancient Greeks did not fail to make itself manifest in a most striking manner.

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