Beginning that day, Loukas and Thera lived a charmed life. In time, the couple brought into the world two children, first a girl they named Sophie, and a year later, a boy they named Petros.
By the time Sophie celebrated her tenth birthday, she had wavy blond hair like her mother and dark green eyes like her father. Her warm, welcoming smile was comforting to folks, both young and old alike.
“Like a dancer she moves,” villagers commented when they watched Sophie running through the village square with her school friends.
At nine years old, Petros was beginning to favor his father’s solid square build and thick, dark eyebrows. His curly hair was as black and wild as his father’s, and his blue eyes were as bright as his mother’s.
Like his father, Petros learned to master the flute. Ever since he could hold the instrument, his mother’s guidance had given him confidence and his father’s lessons had shown him how to play the instrument with great skill.
From their parents, Sophie and Petros had learned to speak kindly of people.
“Better to say nothing at all about someone than speak ill of that person with cruel words,” their mother often reminded them.
“Cruel words make people suffer,” their father would say. “Remember to hold your tongue and walk away from nasty gossip.”
As fate would have it one stormy spring day, Loukas met up with his friends for a game of cards at a local seaside cafe.
Joining the game was a crafty merchant. He was a hateful man who took great pleasure from spreading rumors about islanders he despised. The merchant was fond of telling his patrons that Loukas, their wealthiest neighbor, gained his riches from illegal trading off the island.
As the card game wore on, Loukas and his friends kept losing their bids to the merchant’s winning hands.
“My luck is down,” his friend Demetri said upon showing his third losing hand to the merchant’s straight flush. He bowed out of the game and left the cafe.
“I haven’t a chance of breaking even,” said Nikos, Loukas’s other friend. When the merchant won the pot with a royal flush, Nikos quit the game and walked out of the cafe without a word.
Loukas stayed on. His rage mounted as he brought to mind the merchant’s lies about trade deals that called into question his honesty.
“Well, my good man, I see you have more faith in your skill than those two cowards,” the merchant said. He nodded toward the cafe door with a sly grin.
“My turn to deal,” Loukas muttered. He glared at the merchant. His cheeks flushed. He was short of breath, and he was working up a sweat.
The game soon heated to a fierce contest.
I must defeat this scoundrel, Loukas thought. He has disgraced me and defaced my family’s name.
“Play on, play on,” the merchant urged.
The merchant stood. He brought his fists close to his face. He narrowed his eyes to stare at his opponent.
The bets increased with higher stakes, and Loukas kept losing.
Loukas’s desire to turn the game to his favor blurred his thinking.
He soon began gambling away the many riches Lambros’s generosity had brought into his family.
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