Over the years, as Loukas’s friendship with Lambros blossomed, so, too, his family’s fortune.
Where once they were too poor even to come by a few cents to buy flour to make bread, with time they had become one of the richest families on the island.
With Lambros’s coins filling their strongbox, Loukas’s family rejoiced over the changes their new wealth brought into their lives.
They built a new cottage with an unrivaled view of the sea.
They planted spacious flower, herb, and vegetable gardens.
They brought onto their homestead a small herd of goats.
They installed a marble fountain.
They hollowed out a tract for a pond.
They planted chestnut trees as a tribute to Lambros for his good will and devotion.
In honor of Lambros, Loukas’s family came to the aid of the village’s poorest folks. Along with his mother and father, Loukas left baskets of food at the doorways of villagers most in need of help. At every season, they brought clothing made by the village seamstress to families troubled by poor health and hard times.
Before long, a band of neighbors grew curious about the surprising turn of good fortune Loukas’s family had taken—and so quickly, at that!
When neither Loukas nor his mother or father said a word to anyone about the source of their blessings for fear of losing the snake’s trust, their neighbors’ curiosity soured into jealousy.
“Look how they make a spectacle of themselves,” one neighbor confided to folks passing through the village square one afternoon. He gestured toward the lavish cottage the family had built on one of the island’s highest bluffs.
“Indeed,” agreed a milliner, stopping in the square on the way to her shop. “Word is out that they’ve hired a crew of caretakers to look after their place.
“Pity us who must fend for ourselves day after day,” she said, a look of disgust pinching her face as she minced out of the square.
“Not to mention the gardeners they bring in to care for their cypress and olive trees. Those trees are unequal to any others on the entire island,” another villager observed, sulking.
As rumors about the family’s wealth raged on with each passing year, Loukas never once allowed the villagers’ envy to force him to reveal his friendship with Lambros. Nor did Loukas ever consider putting an end to cheering the snake on with songs that invited him to dance.
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