“There’s Nikolas and the
donkey. Fiona was right. He is taking his nap, I mean siesta. There aren’t
very many shops open. I wish it was like that in Inveralba.” Callum yawned.
“I wish we had a siesta time,
especially during school.”
“I can’t imagine why you
don’t like school. You seem to do well in geography. I don’t know anyone who
knows more about Greece than you do.” Elspet smiled at Callum. They stood at
the bottom of the stone staircase, trying to decide what to do. “We’ve got
to get the donkey, but I don’t want to touch it. You’ll have to get it. Give
me some of the money. I’ll go and buy the rope and get us something to eat.”
“No way! We’re doing this
together. I can’t do this all by myself. Let’s go and buy the rope and get
something to eat and then we’ll both go and fetch the donkey. We have to
hurry though and do it before Nikolas wakes up,” Callum warned.
They ran to one of the open
shops and asked the elderly woman behind the counter where they could buy
some rope. She directed them down several alleys, winding around and behind
old buildings and up and down several flights of stairs.
“There’s the shop. Let’s get
some rope.” Callum nodded and went inside. He came out a few minutes later
with it coiled around his arm. “It’s sort of heavy.”
Elspet took it from him.
“Whoa! It is heavy. I could never carry it. Maybe if you sling it over your
shoulder, it won’t seem so bad.”
Callum did as she suggested,
taking most of the weight off his shoulders.
“See. I thought it might
work.” She smiled and turned, heading back the way they came. “When I was
reading through the tour book, it said Hydra is an artist’s haven. I think
I’d like to be an artist someday. I’d draw or paint pictures of the docks
and bays and,” she turned her gaze. “Look, Callum. It’s an old Byzantine
church. I love the round, blue roof. It’s a domed church, how quaint. I
think I’d like to paint these old churches too. Maybe I’ll come back here
again when I’m done with university.”
“It’s just a white building
to me. It doesn’t look anything like a church. Where’s the tower and
steeple?” Callum grabbed her hand. “Come on. I’m starving.
“We’re not going to that
outdoor café again. I don’t think I could stand seeing Kristoff again with
his greasy black hair and rude manners. We’ll have to find some sort of take
out place, like that one over there.” Elspet pointed at a small, dingy
“Okay, we can go there, but I
hope we don’t get food poisoned.” Callum looked at the menu hanging on the
wall. “What sounds good to you,? I don’t want souvlaki again, but you and
Fiona might like it.”
A plump man with an unshaven
face and dirty apron covered with grease, asked them for their order.
“We’ll have three gyros to go
please.” Callum watched the sloppy looking man slice some meat off a
skewered slab turning on a spit. “I hope we don’t get poisoned.” Callum
whispered to Elspet.
They watched as he tossed
three pitas on a greasy grill. He squirted something white all over the meat
and plopped it on top of the pita. After adding a handful of chopped
lettuce, tomato, and the meat, he rolled each of them up, wrapped them in
paper and handed the grease-soaked food to Callum. He paid the money and
“Put this one away for Fiona.
It will be sort of messy by the time we get back, but at least she’ll have
something to eat.”
Elspet put the oozing pita
into a bag the man gave her. “I’m going to eat mine now. They are too messy.
Grab some napkins.”
Callum picked up a handful.
He wrapped Fiona’s in several of them and they went to the dock and sat down
to eat. “That was good. I could eat another.”
“Oh no you don’t. You’re not
eating Fiona’s.” Elspet noticed Callum drooling over it.
“I wasn’t going to. Anyway,
it’s time to get the donkey. Fiona will be worrying about us.”
They went back to the main
street and mingled among the tourists. “There's Nikolas! He’s still
sleeping. Okay, here’s what we’ll do. We’ve got to untie the donkey from
that post.” Callum pointed to it. “After that, we can pull it up the hill
and then maybe we can ride it the rest of the way to the monastery.”
“Not me. I might help you
untie the rope and pull it up the hill, but no way am I riding on it. It
smells horrible.” Elspet complained again.
“Fine. Let’s do it. You keep
watch on Nikolas while I undo the knot. It's a good thing he's old. He won't
be able to catch us.” Callum petted the donkey, making friends with it and
talking soothing words as he slipped the tied rope off the wooden stake.
“Good. We’ve got it.” He pulled the rope and the donkey followed behind.
“That was way too easy,”
Pulling the donkey along,
Callum agreed. “Yes, it was. At least that part was easy. We’ve got to get
it up that hill. I hope he cooperates.” He went up a few steps and tugged at
the donkey’s rope. It stopped dead and refused to move. “Come on donkey.
Come on with me up the stairs. I won’t ride on your back. You can walk up
all by yourself.”
The donkey stood its ground.
Elspet shook her head.
“Callum, it’s not going to move. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘stubborn
as a donkey’?”
“What should we do? We need
it to come up to the monastery with us.”
“Hey you kids! What are you
doing with my donkey?” Nikolas stood a few feet away, waving his fists. His
beet red face and his gray eyebrows met above the nose in anger.
“Uh oh. Run!” Callum shouted
and ran up the steps with Elspet following.
“You're trying to steal my
donkey? I will get you both.” Nikolas screamed and ran to the donkey. He
grabbed its rope and petted its head.
When they were half way up
the hillside, they turned and looked down.
Nikolas stood at the bottom,
contemplating if he should chase them or not. Deciding not to, he headed
back to his place near the waterfront, tying the donkey back up to the
“That’s just great! What do
we do now?” Callum wondered how they’d get the brick loose without the
“We’ll have to go back to
Fiona and tell her we couldn’t get the donkey. Maybe she’ll not be too mad
once we give her the gyro.” Elspet chuckled with nervousness.
* * *
Fiona stretched and stood up,
concentrating on the bricks. “Hmm. How am I going to do this? They’re not
back yet and I can’t wait all day. If I pull this out, all the other bricks
will fall and probably the roof too and I’ll die.” She looked up at the
ceiling. “I need that donkey.”
Elspet and Callum snuck into
the monastery. They saw Fiona standing at the wall. Callum stumbled on a
Fiona heard him groan and
turned around. “Well, where is the donkey? I don’t see it. Is it outside?”
Callum stood up and brushed
the dirt off his knees. “I’m doing just great, Fiona. Thanks for asking.”
Fiona ignored him.
“Um, we didn’t get the
donkey.” Elspet whispered, afraid of Fiona’s reaction.
She heard. “Why not?”
“Fiona, we had the donkey,
but it wouldn’t come up the steps. I tugged the rope and tried to pull it
up, but it dug its heels in and wasn’t about to move another inch. Stubborn
thing. Nikolas came out of nowhere. He shouted at us and was really mad. I
thought he might try to chase us, but he didn’t. We’re lucky to escape. I
did get some rope though.” Callum studied the bricks. “ Maybe we could do it
ourselves.” He explained his idea, hoping Fiona would understand.
“We brought you something to
eat.” Elspet handed Fiona the bag. “It’s a gyro. It’s pronounced yee-ro.
“It’s really greasy though,”
“Yeah, like Kristoff’s hair.”
Elspet giggled and stuck her finger in her mouth, like she was gagging
Fiona took the gyro from her,
peeled the paper back and took a bite. “It’s good and greasy. Yuck.” She
wiped her hands on her pants. “Thanks. Well, no donkey then, huh?”
Callum and Elspet shook their
heads back and forth.
“While you were gone, I was
thinking. See that tree over there?” Fiona went to a hole in the wall of
bricks and pointed outside. “If we take the rope and wrap it around the
trunk and then bring the end back here. We can try to pull it out.”
Callum unwound the rope and
put one end of it in Fiona’s hand. He climbed over the fallen stones and
went to the tree, walked around it and carried the other end of the rope
back to Fiona.
“Okay. Here’s what we’ll do.
I think I can slip this rope around the brick, at least some of it, but
first, let me finish eating my gyro. It’s making my hands greasy.”
They sat down on a marble
slab and let Fiona finish her food. Again, she wiped her hands on her pants.
“My mum’s going to be annoyed when she sees the mess I’ve made with all this
disgusting grease.” She picked up the rope and moved over to the brick.
“Won’t it fit?” Elspet saw
the rope. “Is it too fat for the hole?”
“Yes it will fit. Watch.”
Fiona pushed the rope into a hole next to the brick. It frayed a bit at the
end, but it went through. She ran around to the outside of the monastery and
pulled the rope out through the other end. “Okay, Callum, when I push it
through this hole over here. Grab it and gently pull it towards you.” Fiona
put the rope in the other hole and wiggled it until it came out the other
“I’ve got it!” Callum pulled
it through. When Fiona came back inside, he stood holding both ends. “Now
“Take this end,” Fiona said,
handing him a piece of rope, “and stand by the tree. When I say go, you and
Elspet pull as hard as you can. Put your feet against the tree trunk to help
you get leverage.”
They ran outside. Fiona tied
the other end to one of the standing marble pillars. “That looks like it
will hold,” she said. “Okay. Pull!” Fiona shouted.
Elspet and Callum pulled the
end of the rope.
Fiona ran to the pillar and
checked the knot. She picked up another brick and got it ready to put it in
its place when the old one came out. Bits of broken dirt and stone fell to
the ground as they scraped, struggling to loosen the brick. “Pull! Pull!”
She shouted to her friends. The marble brick shot out of its place into the
air. Fiona pushed the other brick in. The wall shook and a few pieces of
stone tumbled to the ground, but the walls didn’t collapse. “The new brick
is cracked, but I think it will hold.”
Callum picked up the brick
with the jewel inside. “We’ve got it! We did it!” He ran back inside and
handed it to Fiona. “That was too easy! I don't think...”
“Uh Fiona. What are those?”
Elspet scrunched up her face.
The place where the new brick
was now spouted forth hundreds of black creatures. “It looks like an oil
well, or even an erupting volcano. Whatever they are, they’re coming up
through the hole in the middle of the brick. Oh sick! They’re scorpions.”
Fiona scowled at the sight.
Every place there was a hole,
or crack, scorpions came crawling out. “Let’s get out of here,” Callum
shouted dropped the marble brick and ran outside, followed by Fiona and
“Ick. Ick. Ick. I hate
scorpions. They’re ugly and horrible creatures. If they sting us, we’ll
die.” Elspet jumped up and down, brushing pretend scorpions off her body. “I
can almost feel them crawling on me.”
“You don’t like many animals,
do you, Elspet?” Callum knelt on the ground.
“Where’s the brick, Callum?”
Fiona didn’t see it in his hands.
“Oh no! I dropped it inside
the monastery. It will be covered with scorpions now.” He jumped up and
moved in for a closer look. The entire inside of the church was covered with
the writhing creatures.
“This is just great. How are
we ever going to get it now?” Fiona stomped her foot on the ground. “After
all that work! We had it in our hands and you dropped it, Callum! I am so
mad, I could scream. In fact, I think I will.” Fiona ran to the olive tree
and screamed at the top of her lungs. Callum and Elspet stared. A few
minutes later she came back, arms folded across her chest.
“Do you feel better now?”
Elspet wanted to laugh, but was too frightened to.
“Yes, much better. Thanks for
asking.” Fiona glared at Callum.
“I read once that if you use
a certain plant, it wards off scorpions and bugs. If I could just remember
what it was called, we could find some here, maybe,” Callum said.
“I think it’s an herb. It’s
called lady something.”
“Lady slipper?” Elspet said
the first thing that popped into her mind. “Those have beautiful flowers.”
“No, it’s not that. It’s
Lady’s Mantle. Yes, that’s what it is. Lady’s Mantle. It’s good for curing
stomach ailments too and scorpions hate it. It has light gray-green leaves.
I remember that much and it has little yellow flowers and I think they grow
“Callum, you know about the
strangest things. I can’t believe a ten-year-old boy from the highlands of
Scotland knows about an herb called Lady’s Mantle. Maybe you’ll grow up to
be a botanist, or work in a flower shop.” Elspet laughed at the thought.
“It’s not funny, Elspet. I’m
not going to be a florist. I’m going to work at the croft, maybe have my own
and raise sheep, like my dad does.”
“Will you two please stop
bickering. Let’s start looking for some. If only I knew what it looked
like.” Fiona sneered.
“We might have to go into
Hydra and see if any of the shops sell some. If they have a herb shop, we’d
be sure to find some there,” Callum said.
“You mean we have to go back
into town again? What if Nikolas sees us? He’ll have us arrested for
stealing his donkey. I’m tired. It’s been a long day. Can’t we just go
tomorrow?” Elspet sighed.
“After we have the brick
safely in our hands, we can rest. There’s a jewel in there, a magic jewel,
remember? It’s up to us to find the jewels. Think about what King Kegan and
his family went through to save the orb. We might as well head into town. We
can stay there for a while, rest, watch tourists, have an ice cream and then
come back here before dark. Maybe they’ll go away by themselves,” Fiona
walked around to the front of the monastery and looked up at the arched
door. “Scorpions!” They followed the dirt trail towards the town.