From: (LYNGOS 2)
Date: 20 Feb 1998 06:13:43 GMT
Lines: 384
Message-ID: <>

Good morning to all

Today I am continuing, with another one of Modis Makedonian Stories.Unlike the other ones, which I translated almost entirely word by word, without paying too much attention to it's meaning in the English language, from now on I'll make my translations more "English friendly".

I am having again difficulties translating the "broken Greek" so I am inserting a parenthesis in the end of those sentences.

Also after translating 9 of his stories I realized another thing.

Seems that nobody ever edited the original manuscript and the books after the printing. I keep finding mistakes,  that they shouldn't have been there, and I might have difficulties with all kind of names used by Modis.

I asked my old man in Florina, if he was remembering all the names in their original form and I am working on them .

To give you an idea the original title on the book of this story is,--- DIPLOMATA ME PISTOLIES---. (DIPLOMAS WITH PISTOL SHOTS). However and due to the fact that Modis is taking most of the titles of his stories, from a phrase within them, I found something else.

There is the phrase DIPLOMATIA ME PISTOLIES. ( DIPLOMACY WITH PISTOL SHOTS) within this story. And I do believe that this is and should have been the original title.Somebody FORGOT the --I-- in the  word DIPLOMATA  to make it DIPLOMATIA.

And then because nobody edited the whole thing, it was printed wrong  with plenty orthographic mistakes too !!!!!!!!!

Today's story is about the assasination of CHATZIPOPOVICH the publisher of the Serbian newspaper in Monastiri by the name Yiouzna-Zveznta (South Star). I tried to follow  and even print the original as much as possible to it's own form of publication, including periods,upper cases, etc.etc.

The CITY of course is always Konstantinoupolis.

And here is the story as was told by George Modis.

Again forgiveness will be appreciate for mistakes during the translation . Just get in the mood.

                            DIPLOMACY WITH PISTOL SHOTS

The Vlachian caravan; they left early at dawn going to Korytsa.

It was June , 1926.The automobile hadn't displaced the quadrupeds yet.  About thirty mules were climbing slowly, slowly the steep hill, one behind the other, loaded with bells on their necks and sacks on their backs,  without feeling very much the weight. They were playing between them and sometimes one would think that they were talking among themselves .

The three mule drivers, Albanian-Vlachs from the places around Korytsa, dressed with their heavy wool clothes and their light tsarouchia shoes, were behind them breathing heavily with their large chests, in the morning dew.

     Above Florina and a little farther up from the ""Nursery"",  the famous at those days --Tree-nursery station---, they saw an older man laying under few poplar trees. His clothes and his shoes were covered with dust.
-----Good morning, I said to him.
-----Good morning, he answered back.

     He stood up right away and started walking next to them.

-----Where are you going for heavens sakes, old man ? asked a tall Vlach,

Tousias, whose arms were hanging around a piece of wood on his shoulders.

     The old man looked at him wondering.

-----I am asking you, repeated the Vlach, where are you leaving for !   Where are you going ?
-----Aaa. At Smarntes.
-----Ourselves going there also. We are going to Korytsa.
-----And are you going to make it ? are your ankles going to hold you, poor you, till Smarntesi? asked another of the Vlachs,  Nakos, shorter and more solid, who seemed to be the leader of the mule drivers, starring at him with compassion.

     The stranger looked at him with perplexity.

-----He must be deaf, Nakos told  the other two in the Vlachian language  And kept talking to the old man.
-----Smarntesi is far for you. What is your business anyway in Smarntesi?
-----Ah!  At Smarntes?  Have brother, sister. (Antelfos,Antelfi).
-----I see he doesn't know the Greek language, said the Vlach to his companions.

     And he repeated the question in the Vlachian and Albanian language (Arvanitika).

     The same perplexity was painted on his face.

------Well !! what kind of a person is he? said with dismay the Vlach. Not knowing Greek, not knowing Vlachian, not knowing even Albanian !  Where he lives ?
-----He must know only the Bulgarian language, that we don't speak, observed the third.

     Tousias then asked him in the Turkish language. He had worked in the CITY, and he had a good job, but he left it in order to come back to his mules and  the clear air.

-----Turkish at least do you speak ?
-----I know the Turkish, he answered immediately.
-----Well they are asking you my old man what are you going to do in Smarntes?
-----I have a sister there. My steer died the other day.  I am going to ask my sister for money to buy another.  She has two children in Canada.  Better if we don't talk about. The steer died, the donkey is limping, and my old lady is sick.
-----He is very poor, said the other two Vlachs, once Tousias expained to them.They felt sorry for him.

     Nakos jumped on a mule, took out from a bag hanging on the saddle and covered with heavy blanket, a loaf of hard bread and a piece bagio cheese even harder and very salty, in order for the person to eat little of cheese and feel full , eating lots of bread and even more water, he divided them in four pieces and gave his part to the old man.

     He wolfed them down with great appetite.

-----Well.... in addition he is hungry ! said the leader. He is in bad shape. Lets place him on the black mule. He is not going to make it uphill.
-----Ai      old man, the one who spokeTurkish , said,  What's your name ?
-----Well, old-man Kosta, climb on  this mule. We have elderly people in our houses also. Is going to be very difficult to cross the Vigla on your feet.

     And he helped him to climb on the animal. It was a strong mule, somehow less loaded than the rest of them, in order for the mule drivers to rest now and then on his back.

    The caravan had gone quite a ways on the difficult steep hill. To the right and to the left were trees, and very green mountains full of trees. The old-man Kostas was bent over and silent, starring at the head of the mule, as if he didn't care at all for the beautifull landscape  they were going through. At some instance he turned back as if he was awaking from a deep sleep, and said in the Greek language.

-----Do you have a cigarette? (Tsigaro ekei )?
-----We don't have, the Vlachs answered. (Nten ekei).
-----This guy, my eyes, in the end he is going to ask us for baklava, said the leader.
-----Well ......what kind of a gypsy (Gyftos) is he ? asked the third one Kolas.
-----Poor he is,--- the miserable---, replied Nakos. If we were smoking, we
would  offer to him. And turning toward the tall one said. -----Tell him in Pisoderi we'll find cigarettes.

     And then Tousias said.........

-----Bre old man. You don't have mule. You don't have bread. You don't have cigarettes. For where did you leave like this ? Did you think that your sister is only ten feet away ?
-----The stores and the bakeries were closed, when I crossed through Florina.
-----And you couldn't wait for them to open ?
-----I thought better before the sun gets me......So.......How do i know ?
-----Were you afraid that you were going to get tan, poor old-man Kosta........If it wasn't for us, I don't know, what was going to happen to you, in the name of  God.  Anyway.  In Pisoderi there are cigarettes.

     When  near Vigla, they saw soldiers and gendarmes watching the trails and the passes.

-----They must be hunting for somebody or somebodies, the Vlachs said between them.

The old man was bent forward in the saddle half asleep.Seems that he didn't even realize the presence of the gendarmes and soldiers.

     And  no one from the gendarmes bothered to leave his post and examine the caravan, which kept walking silently, as always, toward Korytsa.

     Once they climbed the pass called Vigla,the Vlachs made the sign of the cross hurriedly outside the small church of prophet Elia, and unpacked the mules and set them free to graze and rest.Then they went and sat close to the water faucet.

     The old-man himself made three times the sign of the cross in a touching way and went next to them.

-----Thanks to God we arrived  this far, he said to Tousias in Turkish. Tousias, laying on his back on the thick grass, laughed heartily.
-----Did you get scared that the wolves will eat us ?
-----He isn't wrong the old-man, said  Mr. Nakos, once he explained to him why he laughed.  Ourselves, being  day and night on the roads and in the mountains we are always in the hands of God.  Bad people are never missing. Do you forget 11 years ago ten of our own people  froze to death outside Pisoderi ?
-----Then it was a terrible snow-storm. Now we have the blessed summer.  And here in Greece is quiet.  You can go around without any fear.  I wish I had 2000 sheep and set them free up here in this silky grass!  I would give you my mules.
-----Couldn't you be happy with less, Tousia ? For me  even  500 would be plenty, Kolias said.
-----Ah !  What  was  I  looking for and had to leave the the cars are going to eat us up.

     They started eating again the bread and cheese.  The old man standing up, was eating with gusto and he was looking with curiosity at the land around him.  A big and thick forest with very tall beech trees was laying all around.  His stature now was revived as if the fresh air of the mountains made him feel better.

-----Beautiful forest  Eh?  Tousias told him. Up here many years ago one of our Kapetanios (Chieftain) , Kolegizas, had numerous encounters with the Turks, and killed many of them .  Have you ever heard of him ?
-----Kolegizas ! Kolegizas ? Ah !  I heard something. Did he make it all the way up here ? Wasn't he a robber?
-----No. He was Andartis.........(rebel). Oh well and a little of a robber........That's fine, said exploding with laughs Tousias. He was my grandfather's brother.
-----That village down there, is Pisoderi ?
-----Pisoderi. A fine and big village once.
-----And this big house .....what is it ? Some Bey's mansion ? (konaki).
-----What are the Beys looking for in the mountains ?  Is the school. A Pisoderian monk from Chatziliki built it.
-----And Smardesi,about where  is it  ?
-----Ah over there under that blue mountain........We'll arrive in the evening. Now is downhill. But just tell me . You have never left your village?
-----Of course..........I have been to Florina, to Sorovich, and once years ago I went to Bitolia to Monastiri.
-----You made it too far.....I have been all over the world. Arvanitia (Albania), Thessaly, Makedonia. And I have been to the CITY.
-----By the way how is life in Albania ? I hear is fair.
-----What fairness !!! Is Turkish in there, pure Turkish. The old man stopped talking.

     They re-loaded the mules and started going downhill. For short cut they took the trail much farther below Pisoderi. The old man was sitting on his mule again bent over, half asleep.

-----Ai old-man!  Tousias yelled at him. Aren't you going to buy cigarettes? We are passing below Pisoderi.

     The old man shook his head in a negative way. And he put his hand mechanically in his pocket.

-----If he doesn't have even two drachmas, we will give them to him, Nakos told Tousias.

     The old man refused again.

-----Thank you he said. From the moment you are not smoking, I am not going to smoke myself either. Never , I am going to forget your kindness. Maybe someday i might be able to get even. God is great.

     Around evening they arrived in Krystallopigi (Smardesi). The Vlachs unloaded the mules and they went to take care of their papers in the customs and the police.

    In the morning they were going to cross the border.

     The old man said good bye to them and thanked them with liveliness and fervor.

-----If God's willing  sometime to meet again he told them I am going to treat you.  What you did for me it was very big and I am not going to forget it.

     Then he took the right side of the mountain toward Moschochori (Vampeli) to see his sister without of course getting near to the "Publicans and Pharisees" and the policemen. He passed by the end of the village bent and arched.  To two-three women that he met he just told them a quiet "good evening" without raising his head at all.  " He must be a begger " they said between them. He arrived on a small hill. About 300-400 meters farther down was the border post and across from it  Albania.

     The old man stood up  to his full stature, as if the Albanian air was giving him new life. In an abstract way, he was starring at the sun going down behind an Albanian mountain. All of a sudden a soldier appeared.

-----What are you looking for in here grandpa? he asked him in the Bulgarian language.
-----I see a cousin of mine , my child.
-----What's her name grandpa ? So we can find her.
-----And her husband ? In the village there many Marias.
-----She doesn't have a husband, she is a widow.
-----What was his name ?
-----How could I remember my child, I am an old man.
-----And how are you going to find her grandpa ?  And what do you need her for, that  you are trying so hard ..........
-----Family business, my child.
-----And tell me something grandpa, where are you from ?
-----From around Florina. From what other place.
-----And from what village ?
-----Ah ! you need to know the village ? I am from Pesosnitsa.
-----What do you say grandpa ! Myself I am from there. And I never saw you........From which family are you ?
-----I have been away from the village for many years.........
-----Don't tell me........Are you trying to fool me ? Give me your papers. You are not from the villages of the plains.
-----What papers?
-----Papers..........How did you come in here ?....
-----But... in here is still Greece. Why should I  get a passport ?
-----We are on the border. Take out anyway your certificate, your I.D. cart.
-----I am an old man my child. I have no idea where did I put them. Plus, I am illiterate. How come you are torturing me ? Let me in my misery and in my troubles. I am not coming  from lucky circunstances.

     The soldier  was willing to help him. He extended his hands to search his pockets. his fingers felt something hard. He pulled it out. It was a small Manlicher pistol brand new and loaded !!

-----What is this old man ?  asked the soldier really surprised.

     The old man ,wild, with sparkling eyes, hit him once ,he push him, and jumps toward the small canyon.

     At that moment arrived a sergeant with another soldier. They jumped on him and they grabbed him. They found on him another pistol .  In a pocket of his vest he had 20 golden --twenty franks-- coins and plenty of one thousand Serbian money!!!! And deep between the lining of his coat a Bulgarian passport. They were trying really hard to read it.They came with the name Lipitkos Lirikos Sirikof........

     The sergeant called right away the colonel of the regiment in Florina.

-----Send him here  immediatelly , congratulations, his voice was sounding happy.

Tie him up really good and keep your eyes open. Go down to the customs post and if you find a car from Albania take it no matter what it is. In the mean time I am sending a car from here.  From this moment all three of you have a pass and an extra stripe. Just do things fast.

     In the customs post there were two cars with beans from Viglista. They took them even though the drivers decided to spend the night in the little local hotel.  Between Antartiko and Pisoderi they met the local bus to Florina. They took it.

     As soon as they arrived in the regiment the colonel took the old man in his office after ordering to free him from the ropes. His round face was shining with joy. He had already come to an understanding with his Serbian colleague through the military post in Niki.

-----He is Lipitkof, he had told him. The leader of the "Troika" who killed Chatzipopovich. We knew that he crossed to your side. We didn't hope anymore that you were going  to arrest him. Our warmest congratulations. We are willing to offer a reward to the ones who arrested him.

     And  was shaking with joy, together with his Serbian voice, also the telephone wire.

     This Chatzipopovich was the publisher in Monastiri, with goverment pay, of a Serbian newspaper the "Yiouzna Zveznta" (South Star), who's only mission was to insult us from the first to the last line, and to cry and bemoan for the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of <<< Ancient SERBS >>> under the tyrranic and barbarian Greek "Yoke".etc. He was killed one Friday in Monastiri on a central crossroad  in the place where the Greeks during the Makedonian struggle had eliminated many Bulgars. Of course, as it was natural ,the assasination was attributed to our people. The Zoupan (General Director ), Bounta Bourisavlevich, one of the first propagandists against Greece,  became furious and was threatening gods and demons. Arrests started that were to be generalized. The whole Serbian press was publishing blazing articles against Greece and God only knew where things were to end up, if it was not for reporting, to the Serbian  Chief Policeman of Monastiri Dragatsevich, SELIM, like deus ex machina, a Turkish-Albanian with interesting prehistory, who was telling him to exam and see what happened to the three ""refugee brothers", who arrived few days earlier from Sofia.

     Lieutenant-Colonel  Vasilis Tzotzos, offered right away to the old man coffee and cigarettes, which  he sucked  down. He ordered some more coffee.

     You can smoke as many cigarettes as you wish, Vasili Lipitka or Katsora.

The pack is in front of you, he told him. A lieutenant, Stampoulis, was acting as interpreter. After a small break, he kept talking, standing up and rubbing his hands.

-----Those things are like this Lipitka.
-----I am through eating my bread. I am old anyway he answered starring at him under his eyebrows.
-----The clay-pitcher goes to the water faucet many times. But one time it happens to  break.
-----Let me tell you officer. I don't know your rank, said the old man in quiet voice with a cigarette in his mouth. I care more because I was screwed-up like an illiterate from a young child, the soldier. And he was unarmed. I could have killed him and run towards Albania. I was deceived probably because he spoke to me in our language..............Seems it was written this way.
-----And why don't  you tell me something Lipitka.  Twenty five years you were Komitatzis and Chief Komitatzis. You participate in the killing of Kapetan Vangelis the Strempeniotis. And now in the old age you became SERB?........ How come ?
-----I became ..........<< Ancient SERB >>  (Staro-Serbian) the old man smiled.
-----Ancient or new Serb you changed your beliefs. Do you believe that is fair, for a man who for so many years fought for Bulgaria and sent to the other world many Greeks ?
-----It was an order, he answered  with sterness.
-----And then.......They  received you in Monastiri "with lanterns and torches" and they took care of you like brothers. << Yiouzna Zveznta >> wrote many articles for you and your two companions, they put your picture also.  I have the paper in here. Only you look much younger..........Then how come you killed it's publisher ?

     The old man was silent.

-----Were you enemies with him ? Any complaints ?  Wasn't he your best friend and protector of you ?  Why did you kill your benefactor ?

     Lipitkas did not open his mouth.

-----We know all about it, old Kapetan. The Serbs know it also. You kill him  because Chatzipopovich was writing constanly against us, he was insulting us and slandering us, and he was presenting you people as the << Enslaved brothers >>, and he was yelling to Sofia   for your tortures and your sufferings from us ..............

It was logical then and inevitable that his assasination should be attributed to us, who were considering him, like the bull considers the red fabric. The Serbs arrested our people from Monastiri, and they were getting ready to arrest some more, the newspapers were on fire and if it wasn't for Selim...
-----Ah!!  Selim then !!!!! the old man jumped up.
-----Selim or Memet or Morntoucha, or Perikles. Doesn't make a difference anymore.

You killed him in order to plant discord between the Greek-Serbian relations. You were making high politics and diplomacy with pistol shots......

-----How  could we have known ?..........It was an order, the old man whispered.
-----That's why you hit him in the crossroads where Kapetan Stefos and others of us had killed during the Turkish years,  Bulgars. That way, was going to be much easier for the Serbs to fall into the trap. Greeks were killing the Bulgars in there. Greeks had to have killed the Greek-Monger, Chatzipopovich. Isn't that what happened?
-----It was an order, said the old man lighting another cigarette.But why are you telling me all these things? I did nothing to Chatzipopovich. Petsos stopped him on the street, who was really good friend of his, and Nikolas shot him once in the back of his head. I was three hunderd steps away.

-----What I don't understand is how come the Serbs didn't find out about you. The assasination happened in the middle of the day on the central street. People didn't see you ?

-----Ah !!!  The Serbs !!!!! laughed the old-Komitatzis. In the street there were just two-three women and a lieutenant. They never realized what exactly happened. We left quietly and we went to the house where we were staying. We had lunch. After that, we went to another house. Petsos and Nikolas left the same day. By now they should be in Albania. They are young. I started leaving next day. I couldn't cross the border during the night. I stayed another day in a field planted with rye.

-----The second night I crossed the border. In the morning I was above Florina hungry and without a cigarette. The Vlachs picked me up. Ah !! Good people and Christians. If I was going to cross to Albania, I was going  to give to each one of them a mule. They never suspected a thing. On the way i saw your soldiers  guarding the mountains and the trails. How could they  have imagined that I was going atop with a whole caravan !!!!!!

-----I want you to tell me something Lipitka.  But I  want the truth.You had never any communication with others on the Greek side ?
-----But....If I were really hungry and without cigarettes? The Vlachs took me into their caravan because of simple kindness. Is not right for them to get into trouble.

And now could you tell me please what are you intending to do with me ?

I don't believe you are going to deliver me to the Serbs. I am from Greece from the village Lioumpotino today's Pedino.

-----You are from Greece but you left her as soon as she arrived in these lands.  From the spring of 1913 you left to go to Bulgaria. And then, do not forget it, you became << Ancient Serb >> .

George  Sofoklis Tsapanos.
Regards to all.......L.

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