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The Courtesan

Updated on September 18, 2012

The De Greek Retreat

I built my weekend retreat almost at the top of a 2200 foot high hill I owned, which the local villagers called the De Greek Mountain. Though I built for seclusion and privacy, from a certain position I could just see on the hill next to mine the house of the Italian courtesan, at the time a veritable mansion but now a run-down decrepit building. The lack of maintenance has taken its toll and its old glory is now long gone. It now looks a little like the mansion of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Her house was built for her by one of her innumerable admirers, the original one who brought her to the area. He was not a proud example of male beauty whose brave deeds will be sung through the ages, but he was a self made millionaire who wanted everyone to know that he had arrived.

His open purse for the duration of his interest had ensured that for a long period of time she and her house had become the centre of male congregation of socialites who had wealth and wanted more of it and of socialites who did not have any and wouldn’t mind some of it.

She was a stunning woman and knew how to get men’s attention. I remember her quirkiness in insisting on maintaining the only operational horse-drawn carriage in the county with two beautiful, powerful, young white horses she had trained to the harness.

In fact, when I built my own place on my mountain twenty years ago and had declined her first written invitation to dinner, she actually paid me a visit herself in that very coach. Those who know about horses will know that we like to canter them uphill because they are so much easier to control on the ascend and once the poor beasts start they will run until they drop. I remember watching her coach coming up the hill and admiring the power of those two beautiful two-year olds as they pulled the coach at a canter as if the weight of the coach was not there. She arrived flushed with excitement and I helped her down making sure the coachman (a strange looking specimen, a bit like Christoph Reilly) would walk the horses until they cooled down after a mile long climb at a canter.

When I first met her that day she was in her forties (like Feline Prophet I imagine) and still lovely and graceful with an undeniable charm that could not but captivate. She sat for about an hour and I could see how she used her femininity to get what she wanted. She said that she would not leave until I assured her that my wife and I would join her at a gathering of her friends the following Saturday.

I did go with my wife as requested, but the experience was not for me and I left early. Besides a number of girlfriends of hers, I felt as if I was in the middle of a stampede of Young Lochinvars and their uncles, all clearly feeling that they were standing on Holy Ground and who followed after her like puppy dogs with that natural awe which falls upon populace when they behold the great.

The older men affectionately held large drinks in their hands while stoking up at the buffet table to preserve their strength and at the same time drooling over our hostess who appeared to be in a world of her own. The devotion of the young men made them appear as if they would have been happy with a dog biscuit and a glass of water as long as they were near her and she cast the occasional smile in their direction.

There was one particular specimen who appeared to be the contemporary financier of the event, a general with an extra four of five inches of neck and shoulders the width of which necessitated him going through double doors sideways. I felt it highly unlikely that he would have serious hopes of obtaining high honours in any unprejudiced beauty competition, unless the judges were all below the rank of Private First Class. The light of intelligence did not appear to shine brightly from his sizzled eyes, but as even the worst of tragedies will have a silver lining, his generosity at paying for the current festivities could not be faulted and certainly they must have given a serious shock to the Privy Purse.

Our hostess dispersed her charm and wit like an empress casting largesse on her followers and everyone breathed in her charm and presence as if it were a life giving elixir.

When she tried to flirt with me inappropriately in front of my wife, I felt that she overstepped the bounds by insulting my wife directly to her face so I bid her a cool good night and left just twenty minutes after we had arrived and we never saw her again.

My gardener was her coachman’s brother, so I got to hear all the village gossip about the “Italian”.

Eventually I got divorced, sold the house and moved away from the area, though I would go there once every year or so to inspect the land I still own next to the house I sold.

Last year I went there with my current wife and after inspecting the land, we sat at the coffee shop in the village square. I heard horses’ hooves and looked up to see two decrepit, scrawny old nags slowly walk into the square, pulling a cart with what appeared to be considerable difficulty. They were white and they appeared to be malnourished, with heads down, bones sticking out all over the place and with what appeared to be sores and my heart went out to them. The reins were held by a wizened old man (looked like tonymac04 or Shadesbreath, only one week after the post mortem) whom I recognized with shock as the brother of my old gardener and the coachman of the Italian courtesan.

I soon realised that I was looking at what remained of the proud and once powerful two-year old horses I had seen cantering up my hill with so much ease twenty odd years previously. Everyone around me stood up and those who wore hats took them off. My wife and I mechanically followed suit and also stood up without knowing why. I saw a catholic priest walking behind the cart before I saw the coffin at the back of the cart and I realised who was inside. All that beauty, all that vitality was now gone. Gone also were the young men and the salivating old Lotharios who used to follow her around twenty odd years ago.

The woman who had been a depository of fortunes and in whose embrace so many lovers had happily melted away was no more. Where were those young men of yore whose puppy like devotion had created so much arrogance and haughtiness? Where were the aging millionaires and the generals now? Which new Goddess was providing the latest sport?

Only the weak and hungry looking old horses appear to be left to you now you poor broken wilted flower and it is only the horses which appear to generate a sense of pity in the hearts of the villagers you so despised and so looked down upon in the days of your glory. The villagers who now interrupt their card games and their chatting to stand up out of their deep respect for the dead, any human dead, just for the few minutes it will take you to pass them by on the way to your final resting place. As soon as the cart passes by, they will return to their card games and their laughter once more and not give you another thought.

I took my wife by the hand and joined the lonely priest behind the cart for the short distance to the cemetery.

Dimitris Mita

De Greek


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    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 7 years ago from India

      Well I did not expect that ending DG, but I did love the way you wove your friends into the story. Now do I have to say it again- you have a way with words. :)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      The entitled are enlightened naught alas though for the simplest of strategy and affair...

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Nice place, DG. And cute stone house. Is the house all made from stones or stones are just put as layer on outside walls ?

      My future husband and me are in process of making desicion whether to renovate one old stone house on island he inherited(it is bigger then yours) but our biggest concern is how to perfectly solve water and termo insulation when is not done from the very beginning...what is actually very tricky when one wants to renew something old.... plus house is a little bit too big for two of us (when being on the island, I love to spend majority of my time outside, not inside the walls).

      I also love that I personally perform majority of work - on that way I really feel deeply connected with the every part of property (plus is cheeper and one gets nice shape of the body, LOL).

      Because we have 43.000 feet of land on that island ( but only 3000 feet is around the main part of property - where two houses are - big and one very small) we decided to focus on extending and renewing small house at first and on cultivating all land - saving old olive trees and planting new ones give us a lot of joy - and privacy - because places where olive trees grow are far enough from the people, LOL, many of these places I still did not have time to visit!)

      Of course, we will not build swimming pool there - there is plenty of wild beaches on the island nobody visits.

      Hm...I love your idea about privacy, claiming up to the hill with coach is certainly romantic and living far enough from the other people is always so least for one part of the day.


      If you will permanently live there, you will enjoy every moment, nature is always so beautiful - especially on islands...

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Life has a tendency to pass by whether we want it or not. We all become what our circumstances demand us to become.

      great hub as always Sir Greek.

      hope you're well

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      A bit of a Miss Havisham story, De Greek, everything eventually descending into decay. Is it called entropy? I hope that someone looked after those poor horses after her funeral though, and gave them a nice field for their retirement

    • Joy At Home profile image

      Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States

      If I have my way, you'll go down in history as a great writer. Captivating.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      @ dianacharles, thank you for your kindness. But you see? FP ignores me :-)

      @ Brother Mentalist it is good to see you again :-)

      @ Tatjana-Mihaela, it's not very difficult to insulate a BIG house. You can add studs, insulation and gypsum board on the inside of the building. The result will be very straight walls and a very warm building in the winter and a cool one at summer. Ask your boyfriend to contact me and I can explain to him in detail. Are you interested in selling the small house? :-)))

      @ Hi Zsuzsy Bee, always ready with a good word as usual. Thank you and I am well. :-)

      @ CMHypno Miss Havisham fell from grace once. Our fried here used to dive off Grace on a regular basis as if into a swimming pool :-)))

      @ Joy At Home you are such a kind child. Thank you :-))

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      For the Italian courtesan, I have no remorse.

      I'm only concerned about the horse (s).

      Must say, de Greek, you held my attention to the very end. Not an easy task.

    • profile image

      EnLydia Listener 7 years ago

      That was an interesting story...past and present drawn together.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Well now, that was not, repeat NOT me! I am not old and wizened, except where us men sometimes can't help it! LOL! And the autopsy is still some time away in the future (I sincerely hope!)

      Apart from those small lapses, DG, this was an excellent Hub and I really enjoyed it.

      Sad about the passing of beauty, isn't it? Something we wise (not wizened!) guys have to deal with.

      Thanks so much for a stunningly beautiful Hub, really. And for the (dis?)honourable mention!

      Love and peace


    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      De Greek, I thought that was a lovely story. You really do have a way with words as someone else stated. The characters in the story seem very real. Very good hub.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 6 years ago

      Everything and everyone is transient - beauty, wealth, influence - but not the written word. Well done :-)

    • Feline Prophet profile image

      Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

      Oh, my day is made! I'm in one of DG's stories, never mind the undoubtedly rude things he is implying. Alas, he doth cast aspersions on my forty-ness! :D

      Lovely story and pictures DG - I especially liked the picture of the horses at the end. :)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Poor horses, were they really two yrs old when they were started in harness. We never gave ours any work until they were at least four. I hope they are being well cared for now. Interesting story, we are all transitory. Your writing will endure.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Glad to see you're still spinning wonderful yarns, DG. As someone else said here, a good story will always outlast beauty. ;D

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      @ drbj I am glad this one held your attention :D Thank you.

      @ tonymac04 I did say that the comparisson is a week after the autopsy :D

      @ Pamela99 you canno imagine how much pleasure I get from your words :D

      @ SilverGenes thank you for passing by :-)

      @ Feline Prophet you know that I am always trying to think up ways to tease you, but I don't always succeed

      @ Gypsy Willow there are races sprcifically for three year olds, so your 4 year rule seems a bit extreme :-))

      @ JamaGenee how nice to see you Joanna! Thank you for your kind words :-)

      I MIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSS MY HOUSE!!!! ..... and no one said they liked it :-(

    • Feline Prophet profile image

      Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

      Awww...don't cry, DG...I said the pictures were lovely, and that includes the house! :)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

      You really do tell a tale brilliantly DG - and I loved the pictures - oh your house too :)

      There's only one other hubber who writes the way you do and he says he isn't you :(

      Well, I should be glad there are two of you to light up our days on HP, shouldn't I? :D

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      @ FP it's no the same ... I spent so many pleasant days at that house, that I expect everyone to love it as I do :-)))

      @ Shalini, NOT FAIR! Who writes like me? I want to read his stuff as well. Pleeeeeese?

    • Pam Roberson profile image

      Pam Roberson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Oh how I love this story! You've added some extra flow and polish to this one that held me captive even tighter than usual. I'm not sure why I didn't expect such an ending, but it's certainly fitting.

      Outstanding! :)

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Ahhhh...Pam..... you have not forgotten me after all :-)))

      What did you think of my old place?

    • Pam Roberson profile image

      Pam Roberson 6 years ago from Virginia

      I can never forget you! I adore you!

      Your "old" place is magnificent beyond words. It would have broken my heart to sell it regardless of a divorce. What a shame. And to think you had your own mountain. lol! I find that very cute! Someone like you should always have such real estate that has your name attached to it. Always!! :D

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Regrettably, I had no seigniorial rights at all at the local village :-)))

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      I loved the subtlety of concentrating on the fate of those horses to make the point about the passing of time and the devastating effects of aging. We come to expect such refined thinking from you. Thank you De Greek

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Ahhhhh..... thank you Petra :D

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Your home is gorgeous but some one ele is enjoying it now. I bet your current home is gorgeous too. Are you going to regale us with a story about it?

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Angel Face, if you knew my story, you would shed black tears of pain and pity. However, loosing my all I am more to be pitied than censured. 200 different wolves have feasted on my poor ravaged body and all that is left are the bones. My Angelic wife now works and feeds me, after all and sundry including my own flesh and blood have cheated me of my all. I now feel completely pickled in brine...:-))

    • bludstream profile image

      bludstream 6 years ago

      Then you should become the great writer that you are. All your fortune will return and you can then kick the hyenas out of your house like Ulysses. Any books in that great mind of yours greek?

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      bludstream, who will publish it? You see what happens with so many talented people who cannot find a publisher :-))

    • devsir profile image

      devsir 6 years ago from Earth

      Yes I Do agree with Petra.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 6 years ago from New Mexico

      This was absolutely wonderful, De Greek! It's my favorite of all your work I've read so far. I feel for you having to sell your beautiful house. Jerry and I built a house on a remote site in the Jemez Mts. of New Mexico(at 9,000 ft!) which we also had to sell--but we bought our boat with our small profit.

      And the courtesan! Sigh...poor thing. As Petra Vlah remarked, it was sheer brilliance to focus on the horses' fate rather the courtesan's.

      The photos, the story itself, and the unique presentation...(just took a swig of my beer--wish I had something more elegant, and will smash the bottle as a tribute)...I salute you!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      It brings back the old saying 'the old gray (in this case white) ain't what she used to be' but I guess it shows that to every thing there is a season. We may have our day in the sun and then we are but dust. Too bad for the horses though....well written as usual and love your adding in your many friends!

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 6 years ago from New Mexico

      You know, on second thought, I better just smash a plate! Still a great story!

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

      This is one of your best. The ending grabbed me. I will not tell where. I could just imagine you walking behind the casket. How sweet.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      What a tragically beautiful account. I enjoyed every descriptive word! But now I'm going to be worried about those poor emaciated horses.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I've held off adding my praise because I wanted to be sure everyone saw how wonderful is this story which he "ran past" me before publishing which I applauded as one of his best. But if by some quirk it flopped, you see, I'd have had to eat my words and he'd never again trust my opinion!

      It is certainly one of your best, DG, and as I expected, all the subtlety communicated perfectly. And of course, it doesn't hurt a writer to have EXCELLENT READERS. It's truly one of the several outstanding features of HubPages that the members it brings together are so discerning as readers, as well as writers!

      Shalini, I, too would like to know any other writer who even approaches our DG's style, much less the quality of his output!! The least you can do is share it, since you dropped that hint!! hehe

      DG - this is great - all I can say is MORE, MORE!! I'm eager t see what's next!!

      By the way - I agree with those who believe you can be a writer in the larger world than just HubPages! You have not lost your wit, charm and talent. NO one can take those from a person. The only person who can sabotage those is himself!! And you're demonstrating yours all the time!!

    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 6 years ago from India

      Shalini do let us know who is the other writer...

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      @ devsir Thank you very much for your comment

      @ Lee B perhaps it’s your favourite because of the mountain association? :-))) Thank you for your friendship and go ahead, break that plate :-))))

      @ akirchner Thank you for being your usual kind self :-)

      @ BJBenson you emotional girl you :-)))

      @ Hi habee, so does it get an A from the teacher, or a B? :-)

      @ So you chickened out Nellieanna! If it was a flop, you would have been wistling indifferently staring at the moon??? :-)))

      @ dianacharles It’s not fair of Shalini, is it? :-)

    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 6 years ago from India

      She's just teasing you dear.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 6 years ago from New Mexico

      Plate broken in parking lot when marina manager is not around to frown at me. He's very conscientious! Shards swept up and placed in recycle bin--but NOOOOOO--I like this one the best because it is the best (so far), and not because of any tenuous association with my own life.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Right-o, then Lee! Now check the new one pleeeese? :-)))

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      De Greek, Your creative embrace of word is delightful, I enjoy your work tremendously, thank you for expressing your experiences in such an entertaining manner. Your friends are better for having you in their lives. I am learning it's more about what I don't know and can't control in life. Kick back and observe, enjoy and grow. Peace :)

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK


      I was hoping that YOU are one of my friends? :-)

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 6 years ago

      DG..I have had a short interlude from the hubs but I am back and have found joy as I usually do in your writings. She just became dust in the wind of time,one must be remembered fondly, warmly and lovingly, she was not. Every thing withers in the end and like the late great Johnny Cash portrayed in his last video, material things are all just STUFF a heap of decay, what lasts forever is LOVE. I hope this lady had someone who really loved her in her carefree life she was a mother's child at one time.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Brother Saddlerider one is indeed very fortunate if one leaves behind even one person who will rememeber one with true love.

    • profile image

      chasingcars 6 years ago

      Wonderful story and beautifully told. The courtesan was used like the horses who will, themselves, get far less attention when they die. Thank you.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      chasingcars thank you for your kind words :-)

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      You words captured me. Our world, our lives are very fragile. You, my friend, as you know are the lucky one. Walking hand in hand with real love. The vanity of the parties, the gorgeous items, the many admirers mean nothing in the end.

      Wonderful story - I will carry it with me.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      How kind you are! :-)

      Thank you :-)

    • lisadpreston profile image

      lisadpreston 6 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      I really enjoyed this story. The village is beautiful. I think this story should be reworked into a childrens book and be published due to the many lessons to be learned from it. There are many morals to this story. The lessons of living a selfish, superficial life are what every young person should know. I love the way that you show how everything associated with the Courtesan turned to shamlbes, including the poor horses. She was not a good person, did not have a charitable spirit, and cared for nothing other than her own wants which left her alone and rotted once the money and beauty faded. A loving, charitable, selfless (even if rich) person would have had the whole village walking behind the casket with the priest. The horses would have been cared for and the house would have been maintained by villagers out of love and respect throughout the years, even if her money was gone. I love the ending. You and your wife being the only ones to walk her to the cemetary with the priest. That was a perfect ending.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Lisa, I get so much pleasure from your comments, that you cannot imagine. Thank you for visiting. I am very sorry I sold that house and I honestly wish I had kept it and lived in it permanently. I had given me so much pleasure... Oh, well. I will hopefully be able to build something similar with a sea view :-)

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I am enjoying your hubs immensely since finding them in HP - they are of a rare and very entertaining quality. Thank you for publishing them.

      I have also published a hub reviewing "The Courtesan" with a link to your hub, of course. Hope you don't mind.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      How kind you are Wilderness. Thank you :-))

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful, I am glad you want to share this one. I love this place and the pictures so amazing. Thank you very much.


    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      I am pleased that you like my old place, thank you :-)

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