Mr. X or Captain Pogossian

The sailors, as though they had forgotten our existence, began talking among themselves, and whether they were quarrelling or joking we could not tell. Suddenly two of them, finishing their drinks in one gulp, went off in a great hurry, while the two who were left vied with each other, in a tone of benevolent concern, to assure and reassure us of something or other.

At last we began to guess what it was all about and, as it afterwards turned out, our guess was almost correct: those two comrades of theirs who had suddenly left had gone to put in a word for us in the proper quarter, so that we might go on their ship, which was sailing the next day for Piraeus, from there to Sicily, and from Sicily to Alexandria, where it would stop for about two weeks before sailing to Bombay.

The sailors took a long time to come back, and while waiting for them we did justice to the magnificent offspring of mastikhe, to the accompaniment of strong words from all languages.

In spite of this pleasant way of passing the time waiting for favourable news, Pogossian, evidently remembering his fifth rib, suddenly lost patience and started to insist that we should not wait any longer but should return home at once; moreover, he assured me with great earnestness that my other eye was also beginning to look black.

Considering that Pogossian had not entirely recovered from the phalanga bite, I could not refuse and, without going into any explanations with our chance companions in the consumption of douziko, I obediently got up and went off after him.

Astonished by the unexpected and silent departure of their defenders of the day before, the sailors got up too and came along after us. We had rather a long way to go. Each of us entertained himself in his own way; one sang, another gesticulated, as if to prove something to somebody, another was whistling some military march. . . .