Mabel’s Chronicles: December 1st 1883 – Syra (Syros)

Friday [actually Saturday] Dec. 1st. We had a quick but very rough passage, starting at 7 and getting here about 3.30 a.m. Wednesday. The Pelops was quite new and very clean and I should have slept well b ut for the fleas. We landed at Ermoupolis at 6.30 and sat on the balcony overlooking the port for 2 hours as there was no bedroom vacant, nor did we get one till 5 o’clock. Mr. John Quintana, H.B.M. V. Consul on whom T called, came and fetched us and we spent 2 hours at the Consulate in Mr. Binney, the Consul’s room, very large and nice and so tidy. Mr. B. must be a most orderly man for everything was ticketed and docketed. T called on him in Athens, says he is like a slight Greek, foreign accent and Greek wife. Then we went home to the H. d’Angleterre to breakfast and I lay in a passage room with a headache till we got a fine large one to ourselves, evidently planned as the drawing room. At dinner we were joined by Mr. Charcutsis, the Editor of a newspaper, who wished to give T details why Mr. Anamesakis, our consul of Chios who lives at Chesmé on the mainland, had been so bound to the Turks as to say when asked by Lords Granville and Aberdeen that T’s statement at Chios and the taxation, though true, was exaggerated. He is to have a great many particulars written out in a fortnight. Phaedros our Dragoman had been here some days but we did not meet till the afternoon. He dined with us and on the symptoms of Homer becoming aggravated we retired to our bedroom to have it sung in private. To me it sounds like a bagpipe.
Yesterday we mounted asses to ride to the other side of the island to the point called Ta Grammata – the writings – a place where the white marble sticks like the beak of a bird into the sea, almost polished, and the sailors who used the little bay as a harbour scribble and scratched little prayers to Serapis for good breezes. My donkey I had no power to turn, guide or check so I desired to be led by a string as I felt dangerous to the public safety. The way was very rough and steep up and down, for the whole island is a mass of stone and treeless hills.Our muleteer had never been to the Grammata and soon was quite astray but we fortunately met with a man who knew the way, the only man we met, and he having given us figs and water accompanied us. We had to get off and climb at last. We ate, T deciphered inscriptions and the man dug up 3 bits of copper money and a little smoothed oblong bit of marble all at the same time. We took 4 hours to get there but not so long to get back and arrived just in time for the dark.

During dinner we conversed, through P, with the harbour master and Mrs. Quintana, and Mr. Tcherlendi came and spent the evening with us. Mr. Quintana is a British subject of Spanish origin on both sides from Malta and reminds us of Sir F. Turville. T has been to see the Archbishop who was very civil and said he had ‘seen us returning last night like Christ entering Jerusalem’.

In the afternoon we drove on an excellent road to Della Grazia, an old harbour, stopping at Mr. Tcherlendis’ villa, white and flat roofed, in a great mess as the family is away and he only goes there for the day. He poured out wine and asking me ‘What do you preffer for liquer?’, gave me besides a glass of anisette, a thing that I hate. Then he took us through a wild little garden and gave us oranges and flowers. This south side of the island is much more fertile.
[Sunday] Dec. 2nd. Up at 6.30 and hastened on board the Ydra…