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The Vintage

(1898)
A novel by

 
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CHAPTER I

THE HOUSE OF THE ROAD TO NAUPLIA

Nauplia, huddled together on the edge of its glittering bay, and grilled beneath the hot stress of the midsummer noon, stood silent as a city of the dead. Down the middle of the main street, leading up from the quay to the square, lay a scorching ribbon of sunshine, and the narrow strips of shadow, sharp cut and blue, spoke of the South.
Along one side of the square ran the barracks of the Turkish garrison of occupation, two-storied buildings of brown stone, solid but airless, and faced with a line of arcade. These contained the three companies of men who were stationed in the town itself, less fortunate in this oven of heat than the main part of the garrison who held the airier fortress of Palamede behind, overlooking the plain from a height of five hundred feet. Down the west side stood the quarters of the officers, and opposite, the prison, full as usual to overflowing of the native Greeks, cast there for default of payment to the Turkish usurers of an interest of forty or fifty per cent. on some small loan; for these new Turkish laws of 1820 with regard to debt had made the prisons more populous than ever. A row of shops and a couple of cafes along the north struck a more domestic note.
A narrow street led out of the square eastwards, and passing the length of the town, burrowed through the wall of Venetian fortification in the manner of a tunnel. On the right the outline of the gray fortress hill, precipitously pitched towards the town in a jagged edge like forked lightning, rose steep and craggy, weathered by the wind in places to a tawny red, and peppered over with sun-dried tufts of grass. Along the base of this the road ran, cobbled unevenly in the Turkish fashion, and after passing two or three villas which stood white and segregate among their gardens of flowering pomegranate and serge-clad cypress, struck out into the plain. Vineyards and rattling maize fields bordered it on one hand; on the other, beds of rushes and clumps of king-thistles, which peopled the little swamp between it and the bay. The spring had been very rainless, and these early days of June saw the country already yellow and sere. The clumps of succulent leaves round the base of the asphodels were dried and brown; only the virile stems with their seeding sprouts remained green and vigorous.
The blinding whiteness of the forenoon gave place before one of the day to a veiled but unabated heat, and sirocco began to blow up from the south. Furnace-mouthed, it raised mad little whirlwinds, which spun across the road and over the hot, reaped fields in petulant eddies, and powdered all they passed with fine white dust. Two or three hawks, in despair of spying their dinner through this palpable air, and being continually blown downwind in the attempt to poise, were following the example of the rest of the world, and seeking their craggy homes on the sides of Palamede till the tempest should be overpast. A few cicalas in a line of white poplars by the wayside alone maintained their alacrity, and clicked and whirred as if sirocco was of all airs the most invigorating. The hills of Argolis to the north were already getting dim and veiled, and losing themselves in an ague of heat.
By the roadside, a mile from the town, stood a small wine-shop, in front of which projected a rough wooden portico open to the air on three sides, and roofed with boughs of oleander, plucked leaf and flower together. A couple of rough stools and a rickety table stood in the shade in order to invite passers-by to rest, and so to drink, and the owner himself was lying on a bench under the house wall in wide-mouthed sleep. A surly-looking dog, shaggy and sturdy, guarded his slumbers in the intervals of its own, and snapped ineffectually at the flies.

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Used availability for E F Benson's The Vintage


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Paperback Editions

August 2015 : Paperback
Title: The Vintage
Author(s): E F Benson
ISBN: 1-5170-4381-6 / 978-1-5170-4381-0
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

April 2015 : Paperback
Title: The Vintage
Author(s): E F Benson, Edward Frederic Benson
ISBN: 1-5118-1067-X / 978-1-5118-1067-8
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

January 2010 : USA Paperback
Title: The Vintage: A Romance of the Greek War of Independence
Author(s): Edward Frederic Benson
ISBN: 1-142-46824-0 / 978-1-142-46824-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Nabu Press
Availability: Amazon   

November 1898 : USA Paperback
Title: The Vintage
Author(s): E F Benson
ISBN: 1-5032-6707-5 / 978-1-5032-6707-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Availability: Amazon   

Kindle Editions

September 2014 : USA Kindle edition
Title: The Vintage: A Romance of the Greek War of Independence (Illustrations) (Interesting Ebooks)
Author(s): Edward Frederic Benson
Publisher: HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Availability: Amazon   



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