"I cannot see how you missed him. he left here not five minutes ago. Perhaps half an hour. Pavlo." "We were eating inside at the taverna. We didn't see him" "Oh it was terrible. Terrible. A catastrophe. He came in here on his way back. Covered in blood he was. Blood and dirt. His shirt torn and his boots spattered with blood too. Those lovely boots. My husband Georgos .. well never mind about that . He sat where you are sitting and he cried his heart out. Sobbing he was. You know how I hate to see a man cry but there was something .... dignified about him. He was erect and yet defeated, broken nearly. But hanging on - fighting. What can we do? And slowly he told me - I got him a Metaxa and he doesn't usually drink - only at Pascha, and weddings, and baptisms, that sort of drinking. Anyway he drank that and he told me. Seems he went on up to talk to Anna this morning and then they went on out past the pastures and into the gorge - it was a good day and he said he needed to be alone. As if he's ever anything else but alone. They carried on a goodly way until he decided to sit and eat his bread and cheese. He sat near the stream so that Dimitri could drink and he, Pavlo, sat down on the big rock that's there and ate his bread and cheese. He was watching a pair of gerakia when it happened. Sailing on the air currents they were. high high. so high, graceful and free. Free like a man's spirit is supposed to be. And then he heard this noise, a kind of loud hoarse pant and when he looked round poor old Dimitri had just upped and died. Fell down dead at the edge of the stream. Well he was old but even so ..."
She drank another raki, banging the glass down with a "Gia mas" before drinking it off in one swallow again.
"So there was Pavlo, all alone up in the gorge with a dead donkey and nobody likely to come by for days and the buzzards circling and his dear dear donkey still warm. Well, he dragged him up onto the bank and talked to him a while while he was working out what to do. You know, what a good friend he'd been to him and how he'd see that the buzzards didn't get him. And all the time Pavlo was wondering what to do. Around midday he had decided, but first he had to come back to the village to get some things...."
"And that's when we saw him"
"Exactly - he covered poor Dimitri as best he could with some scrub and came back here ass fat as he could. He said that he owed that Dimitri after all they had been through together."
"The mattock I can understand but the axe? And the pruning saw?"
"You're not familiar with the gorge then. The gorge is rock formation. Most places up there the soil is no more than 10 centimetres deep. There are gaps between the rocks but no real earth."