As a young boy, Loukas had his father’s deep-set sea-green eyes and narrow nose with a slight curve at the bridge.
He also bore his father’s slightly crooked smile that, were it not for the man’s friendly manner, might easily be mistaken for an angry scowl.
From his mother, Loukas had received an untamed crop of curly black hair and a dark complexion, as though blessed by the sun’s golden rays.
Lately, Loukas had taken to imitating the confidence his mother radiated whenever she made her way through their village. As she moved from place to place, folks took kindly to her gentle way of finding goodness in people.
Like Loukas’s father, his mother steered clear of gossip that too often poisoned the village with spells of spite and distrust. Even when Loukas was still a young child, his mother warned him to walk away from mean people who talked about folks with spiteful words. Loukas must be kind to people. He must look out for villagers—whether young or old—who need help.
Some days Loukas roamed the seashore alone not far from home. He ran alongside sandpipers as they scuttled across the beach, their shrill cries stirring up a rowdy chorus of weet-weet-weeting.
“awawawk,” Loukas screeched, echoing the gulls’ calls. He flapped his arms and swayed like an anxious seabird, circling and diving through salty gusts of wind.
“awawawk, awawawk,” he cried, and took off down the sun-drenched trail that brought him to the island’s ancient seawall.
Once there, Loukas clambered up to a narrow hollow where he took a seat and watched the flurry of activity that swarmed the harbor. By day, merchants from near and far came ashore hoping to sell their wares to the island’s eager vendors and shopkeepers.
From his perch, Loukas could see trawlers and tall ships moving to and from the harbor. Flocks of squawking gulls soared and plummeted above the boats’ misty wakes, their webbed feet barely touching the sea’s churning surface.
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